Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Premier's Electricity Conundrum: Burn Gas or Digest Garbage?

In a teeny tiny story, The Toronto Star announces that the province is about to impose a gas-fired power plant in Toronto's portlands area -- that part of town which politicians keep making grand pronouncements on and nothing happens. Parks, yacht clubs, shopping, water sports, homes have all been dangled before us. Until now.
"Premier Dalton McGuinty says Toronto is getting a new gas-fired power plant whether the city likes it or not because otherwise it risks serious electricity shortages." (Richard Brennan and John Spears, 31 January 2006)
Great.

We have an electricity shortage and record levels of smog days; we have options like conservation, wind power, garbage power, hydro power from Manitoba, all before us ready to be exploited, and the Premier instead charges for non-renewable resource polluting power!
"Just last month, Ontario's Independent Electricity System Operator issued a report saying Toronto faces rotating blackouts within two years unless urgent action is taken to get new power generators and transmission lines to serve the city."
He's a bit behind in his information. We're already getting rolling brownouts or micro-blackouts. They're just happening at night when we're not supposed to notice. But I have a digital clock that refuses to update itself through the power lines in sync with some atomic clock in the US, like all well-behaved modern digital clocks. So every time the power goes out, the clock loses times. I know it's not just a wonky clock, because at the same time it loses seconds, my cable box loses all the information in the channel guide and needs to reload when I go to look at it, and an old digital clock I finally stopped resetting is so far behind in time, it's scary.

On top of that, apparently up north they get regular blackouts (just in the summer? I'm not sure) so that us Torontonians are spared the inconvenience of no power as they reroute scarce power to us, depriving the cottagers of theirs.

In the meantime, "Toronto Councillor Paula Fletcher (Ward 30, Toronto-Danforth) vowed to battle any big generation development in the port lands. "If you want to fight, let's get into it," Fletcher said in an interview."

Gotta love the NDP councillors. McGuinty doesn't have a fighting chance once they get their teeth sunk into an issue. I join Fletcher in fighting McGuinty's stupid imposed solution to a problem he created when he started shutting down coal plants before having anything other than hot air to replace them with. But my concern is that the NDP councillors fight only against, not for a solution.

The Premier and city council will get me onside if they do three things:
  1. Run an advertising campaign for the entire province on conserving energy, and create real incentive programs, not the two-bit ones they have now, that encourage us to purchase energy-saving bulbs and improve the energy efficiency of our homes, and encourage manufacturers to reduce trickle loads from all our always-on appliances and gadgets.
  2. Fast-track the wind power studies for Lake Ontario and create a viable proposal. We're way behind European countries in harnessing the wind off of large waters.
  3. Solve the garbage crisis and energy shortage in one blow by starting up a SUBBOR plant in Toronto. We already have a waste processing station in the east end; a SUBBOR plant would fit in nicely next to it.
I for one think a gas-fired power plant is a waste of natural gas. It is a finite resource and should not be wasted on generating electricity. And, although natural gas doesn't produce much pollution, it sure is more than wind power or hydro power and much more than garbage power. We have solutions staring us in the face. Why are politicians so blind?!

Manitoba would be happy to work with us in creating electricity; we have our own garbage we can harness to generate electricity -- as the SUBBOR website says, the process "produces sustainable electricity and re-usable products without the use of landfilling or incineration. 100% is recycled and 0% goes to landfill or incineration."

I really wish our politicians would show some vision and innovation and stop going in circles on both electricity and garbage. Their follow-the-tail routines are getting tiresome.

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6 comments:

Mark Dowling said...

I've also written about this here and here but in fairness to the Star I don't think you can classify their story as teeny when there had been an editorial the previous day as well.

That SUBBOR thing looks very interesting indeed but the paranoia about it will be something wicked, especially if it's smelly like the Butterball thermal depolymerisation plant started out.

talk talk talk said...

I don't believe SUBBOR would be smelly as (could be wrong) the digestion process kills off the smelly bacteria. Besides which, how on earth could the NDP, which believes in the environment, object to something that would be so beneficial -- get rid of the trucks to Michigan polluting the air, get rid of our garbage without polluting the ground or water, not piss off the communities and states around us, and produce electricity, cutting down on emissions from other electricity plants?!

I have to admit, I missed the Star's editorial..or forgot all about it. Still, when the Premier makes a comment like that to us, that needs to be big front page.

I think I'll skip the Butterball plant link. Ugh! :P

Mark Dowling said...

talk talk

The Rs (Reduce, reuse, recycle) are the way to go but some people just can't see beyond reduce and take the view that if you can't do the best thing you should, well, do the best thing rather than the next best!

talk talk talk said...

I'm not sure I understand your comments (the part after the 3 Rs).

I've seen people toss recyclables into their garbage, then seeing me watching them, quip, should I be recycling? Well, it isn't that hard to get out the free grey box and use it. What I object to now is that the city has taken our in-home sorting to insanity levels.

Then I've had housekeepers look at me as if I've lost my mind when I tell them to use the rags, wash them when done and hang to dry, instead of using paper towels. I took to hiding my paper towels (they have their use, notably when a kid has a cold and I don't want it!). My current one gets that whole rag thing, thank goodness.

James said...

Click on the following link to read about Dalton McGuinty's flip-flop on hydro electricity privatization in Ontario.

This is from the Ontario Tenants Rights website that has a lot of information about Ontario hydro electricity energy issues.

talk talk talk said...

Thanks James! Interesting read.