Friday, June 01, 2007

High Voltage Down Pape

The Ontario Power Authority released a discussion paper last November on various electricity issues, including bulk transmissions of electricity within the GTA. The eyebrow-raising part of their plan is their intent to build a high-voltage $600 million transmission line through the old east Toronto to downtown Toronto, and in fact, if I understand them right, to have 1 2 such lines snaking through the city in order to power up the downtown.

Now, it's admirable to ensure a steady supply of the essential juice to offices and theatres and restaurants and condos, but it's completely mind-boggling to provide said steady supply in the form of high-voltage lines through residential areas, areas in which people live in houses built closely together, along narrow roads. One route proposed is down Pape Avenue. Why? Pape is a narrow, congested road, flanked by neighbourhood stores and well-established residential communities. Aside from the logisitics of deciding where to place the towers, these lines create the kind of electromagnetic radiation that should not be close to homes. What do they plan on doing to ensure enough distance from the lines to the nearest houses: suspend them from the sky? Build the world's tallest transmission towers, to keep the CN Tower company?

The irony of this whole thing is that their home page is littered with articles on conservation, sustainability (which usually means providing energy without consuming resources), and renewable energy initiatives. Furthermore, Riverdale boasts a co-operative that is successfully getting homeowners and businesses to install solar panels. Yet, here OPA is, trying to build a good old-fashioned power line to bring energy from far-off nuclear plants into downtown Toronto, along heavily built-up routes. They're nuts. And it's not surprising the Minister of Energy, currently Dwight Duncan, thinks this is a grand idea since this Liberal government is the one building a power plant to convert a non-renewable resource -- natural gas -- to electricity.

Mind you, our Toronto City Council doesn't help as it refuses to consider what far-thinking European countries have been doing for eons, and that is to convert a renewable resource -- garbage -- into electricity. If Council would do that, then the OPA and MOE would not be able to get away with this daft idea as Toronto could prove it was supplying the downtown with its own steady supply of energy, hopefully, without the need for building high-voltage lines.

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