Green Blackout: Toronto July 5th 2010 (National Post Column)

I commented several times on the Toronto blackout of July 5th on CBC television and radio on July 6th. Attached is an article called “Green Blackout”, expanding upon the points raised in the CBC interviews, particularly the role of careless environmental advocates in undermining the reliability of Toronto’s electricity transmission system. The article appeared in the on-line edition of the National Post July 7th and the print edition July 8th. The article was subsequently discussed by various media outlets including by John Tory on CRFB radio on July 9th.

4 Comments

  1. (admin note: This comment is transferred from another posting. I have written to the author, Alan McDonnell nonsynchronous.com, requesting a reference for the claim implying that there is no problem with Toronto’s 230 KV system.)

    Tom is confusing issues, and wrong about gas fired, on-site, combined heat & power projects.

    Toronto could use 300MW to 500MW worth of these systems (10% peak), which would take stress off the 115kV underground feeders, which are the weakest link in the system. This would allow enough spare capacity for orderly shutdowns and transfers, and extend existing grid life by reducing peak loads.

    Using modern micorgid technology, these can be done without need to upgrade the exisitng grid in order to accommodate the systems, mostly under 10MW each. See a press release from Howard University in Washington, DC @ http://www.howard.edu on their project with Pareto Energy Ltd.

    The reasong why these won’t happen in Toronto is twofold; the greenines want zero carbon, a 70% reduction isn’t good enough, and the monopoly utilities and unions don’t want to lose market share.

    These systems could be added at no cost to the taxpayer, and prevent the need for expensive upgrades to the undeground Toronto grid.

    No private developer is willing to risk the costs of fighting the entrenched interests of utilties and unions…until the technology is widely adopted somewhere else (like the US Northeast) and they just can’t hold back the tide.

    A shrewd politician who actually wanted to solve all of Toronto’s power problems at no cost to the taxpayer could also come along….but I won’t hold my breath.

  2. Great article! It is a rare thing these days to see someone brave enough to state the truth – warts and all. We all knew that eventually this political meddling in our energy supply plan would have consequences. The groups and individuals directing public policy do not have the best interests of Ontarians in mind, but are aligned with other agendas, ranging from financial self-interest to environmental control over energy and the economy. The situation should never have been allowed to progress to this state, and we should all focus on correcting this boondoggle and ensuring that our energy supply is never again vulnerable to political and commercial manipulation. Financial resources diverted from infrastructure maintenance and replacement of baseload capacity will continue to plague the reliability of our system until we return to basing decisions on solid engineering principles.

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