No opposition to Toronto turbine

The Toronto Renewable Energy Co-op (TREC) and Toronto Hydro Energy Services are putting the finishing touches on a plan to install a utility scale wind turbine on the grounds of the Canadian National Exhibition. The high profile location has the support of both city council and the Toronto park's board of governors. Unlike earlier attempts to find a site for North America's first urban-based wind turbine, the joint venture partners "haven't one voice of opposition" this time, says Deb Doncaster, TREC's project manager.

Doncaster expected the details of the land lease and a power purchase agreement with Toronto Hydro to be finalised by the end of October, with the selection of a turbine supplier to follow. Construction, she says, will likely begin in the spring.

TREC and Toronto Hydro are teaming up to install up to three wind turbines near the city's downtown. The partners had finalised a site for the first unit, but the plans got caught up in wrangling between the Toronto Port Authority and the city over ownership of waterfront property. "The Toronto Port Authority is not in a position at this time to want to do any favours for the city and they see this project as a favour to the city," says Doncaster. Although political pressure is building to keep the dispute from affecting the turbine project, Doncaster does not expect a resolution in time for construction this year.

Exhibition Place, which receives about 4.5 million visitors annually, is an ideal site from the perspective of public visibility and awareness, says Doncaster, two of TREC's goals with the urban wind project. In fact, as a condition of its support, the Exhibition Place board asked TREC and Toronto Hydro to develop an educational plan to accompany the installation.