Toronto Finds Energy Solution Blowing in The Wind

TORONTO, Ontario, Canada, December 12, 2000 (ENS) - Windmills on Toronto's waterfront will soon be a reality after the government announced its approval for an innovative project that will allow the public to invest directly in green power.

Environment Canada approved the plan this week to build the first of three utility scale wind turbines on the city shoreline of Lake Ontario. The turbines, dubbed "windmills," will be the first built in a North American downtown setting.

Each turbine will cost C$1.2 million (US$787,107) and will generate about 1,400 megawatt hours per year, equivalent to the power used by about 250 family homes.

The project, known as the Windpower Co-op, will displace 1.4 million kilograms of carbon dioxide (CO2), 8,400 kilograms of sulphur dioxide (SOx), and 5,600 kilograms of nitrogen oxide (NOx) a year.

CO2 is the foremost greenhouse gas responsible for global warming and climate change, while SOx and NOx are the main precursors to acid rain and ground level ozone, otherwise known as smog.

Last May, the Toronto Board of Health announced that air pollution was responsible for 1,000 premature deaths in the city annually. Another 5,500 are hospitalized, reported the board.

Windpower Co-op's backers are the non-profit Toronto Renewable Energy Co-operative (TREC) and Toronto Hydro Energy Services. TREC was launched by the North Toronto Green Community, a neighbourhood based environmental group.

smog

Toronto's famous landmark, the CN Tower, is barely visible during heavy smog. (Photo courtesy Environment Canada)
Toronto Hydro is an electric utility company that serves more than 650,000 customers throughout Greater Toronto. It is the second largest distribution utility in North America.

Together, TREC and Toronto Hydro hope the Windpower Co-op will attract at least 2,000 investors and inspire similar renewable energy projects.

Membership of the Co-op is open to any individual, institution, or corporation already subscribing to Toronto Hydro. Customers get a kilowatt hour credit for the energy which their share of the turbine produces, which adds up to savings on their electricity bills.

A minimum investment of C$500 (US$328) for one "turbine unit" gives members a vote in how the Co-op is run and a share of the green energy produced. This makes it the largest net metering agreement of its kind in North America.

"This project represents the first time a Canadian co-op has formed to develop renewable energy," said TREC general manager Bryan Young.

Together with other capital raising efforts, fees from pioneer members may be used to support some of the startup costs involved in the project.

According to a 1995 study conducted for the Canadian Wind Energy Association by Environics Research, 45 percent of Canadians would definitely buy, and 37 percent would probably buy, wind generated electricity if it were available at about the same price as the electricity now supplied to their homes from other sources.

"Wind energy is seen as a popular alternative for customers who want to buy energy that doesn’t come from fossil fuel burning plants, known to contribute to smog," said Joyce McLean, green energy generation manager for Toronto Hydro.

Through the Technology Early Action Measures component of the Climate Change Action Fund, the Canadian government is giving TREC C$330,000 (US$216,500) to install the first wind turbine on Toronto’s waterfront.

Environment Canada is providing C$98,500 (US$64,600) to TREC for the purchase of green energy for its Toronto offices and laboratories.

Environment Canada's approval of the Wind Power Project is subject to TREC taking into account mitigation measures that relate to the construction and operation of the wind turbine, as well as conditions specific to noise and bird concerns.

Construction of first turbine at Ashbridges Bay Treatment Plant, in Toronto's East End, is expected to be complete by next April.

To find out more about the project, visit TREC at http://www.trec.on.ca/ and Toronto Hydro at http://www.torontohydro.com/energyservices/index.cfm