Copy and Paste from Spoonpullers.
Toronto Hydro chartered Captain Wayne Andrewâ€™s 52-foot fishing yacht, The Last One III, for the day on Thursday, but not to troll for salmon.
Instead they loaded the craft with two dozen journalists at the foot of Spadina Avenue and Capt. Andrew set a course east, steaming for two hours through the choppy teal-blue waters of Lake Ontario to a spot about a kilometre off the foot of Markham Road. Here three white steel poles jut out of the lake to the height of about three storeys.
On the polls is a platform, and on top of each poll is a small wind turbine capable of producing one kilowatt of electricity. Two of the three turbines spun merrily in the noon breeze yesterday.
This $1-million Toronto Hydro Anemometer Station, erected to measure wind speed, went into service last week. It looks innocuous enough, but the city-owned utility has bigger plans. Toronto Hydro has leased from the province a 25-kilometre long, two-kilometre wide swath of the lake bed, stretching from the Leslie Street spit east to Ajax.
For two years, the little cups spinning on the platform here will measure the wind. If the wind is favourable, Toronto Hydro wants to erect a wall of about 70 wind turbines in the lake here, about two to four kilometres off the shore, at 500-metre intervals. Each mammoth turbine would produce about five times the power of Toronto Hydroâ€™s lone existing turbine at Exhibition Place. The project, costing perhaps $700-million, will produce enough power to supply a city the size of Guelph.
â€œThere is a lot of work to be done,â€ says Joyce McLean, Toronto Hydroâ€™s director of strategic issues. â€œWeâ€™re talking four or five years before weâ€™d see any wind turbines here.â€
She notes that the utility is already generating a little power with its three small turbines here, to power the equipment that feeds monitoring information back to the utility.
â€œIâ€™ve been out here three times and itâ€™s been windy enough every single day, that I wish I brought a hat.â€
Wind is not lacking. But support for this project may be harder to locate. Ms. McLean confesses that, â€œWe have some very vocal opponents, and we were surprised at the velocity of their opposition.â€
Chris Tyrrell, chief conservation officer at Toronto Hydro, adds that, â€œBeauty is in the eye of the beholder.
â€œI visited Denmark and I saw 5,100 wind turbines in a country no bigger than Manitoulin Island,â€ he said. â€œThey were onshore, offshore, it was amazing: people living right beside them.â€
But here at home, opposition is crystallizing. John Laforet is a candidate for city council in Ward 43, Scarborough East, on a platform of tilting at the windmills. He writes on his web site, savethebluffs.ca, that, â€œThere is not a single offshore wind plant in the world installed this close to a large residential community. In fact, the closest setback for any offshore wind plant worldwide is 7.5 km, while most are greater than 20 km offshore.â€
A colour computer monitor on the bridge of the Last One III displays results from a depth sounder on the yachtâ€™s hull, explaining why, in this case, such setbacks are impractical. Lake Ontario is only about 12 metres deep along a shelf that runs to about 4 km off the shore here. When we veer southeast, off the shelf, the lake is suddenly 60 metres deep; erecting a turbine platform in that depth of water is unaffordable, the utility says.
I asked Ms. McLean what she thinks of the pledge by Rocco Rossi, the mayoral candidate, to sell Toronto Hydro and use the proceeds to build subways. She opposes Rossiâ€™s platform, because she believes a privatized Toronto Hydro would ditch its renewable energy plans and abandon efforts to serve â€œthe greater good.â€
But there is another way to look at all this: even if we get the turbines by 2015, it will have taken Toronto Hydro fully 13 years between its first turbine, at the Ex, and its next wind project. If wind power makes sense, a privatized utility would perhaps be able to turn this around a little more quickly.
http://news.nationalpost.com/2010/06/11 ... nto-hydro/