Seven years after ten million people were affected by the August 14, 2003 blackout, our
electricity policy remains somewhat schizophrenic. I'm a strong
supporter of the Green Energy Act; we do need to shift
what we can to conservation and to small scale, distributed,
renewable electric generation. It's not the cheapest option, if
all that counts is cash out of pocket, but cash is not all
that counts. The Feed in Tariff has created lots of buzz about
renewable energy in Ontario, despite the recent slashing of the
price that will be paid for ground level solar. But getting
permission to build renewable energy generation remains hard.
Distributed generation can have significant benefits in terms
of reliability, flexibility, and avoided transmission and
distribution costs, if power is generated close to where it is
needed. Its major disadvantage may be opposition from NIMBYs: lots
of little plants are, by definition, near lots of people and
places. Everyone wants electricity, whenever they want it, but no
one seems to want it generated (or transmitted) near them. As
president of Windshare, I'm particularly concerned about the
proposed 5 km setback for all offshore wind developments. The
proposal may please some Scarborough Bluffs residents, who
didn't want to see turbines 2 km offshore. But it's a death
knell for wind development anywhere near Toronto, where the
electricity demand is greatest.
The 5 km proposal ignores one key fact: Lake Ontario is too deep
to build economic turbines 5 km out. The lake is relatively shallow
2 km offshore, where Toronto Hydro proposes to build its wind farm,
but drops off quickly after that.
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Ontario's Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change continues to roll out its Climate Change Action Plan with its proposed GHG guide for projects that are subject to the province's Environmental Assessment Act.
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