Radical transformation awaits

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Renewable energy in the Canadian province of Ontario was recently extolled in two separate reports which, if acted upon, could help the province catch up with Alberta and Quebec in wind power development. The reports also coincide with a pair of grass root wind energy initiatives in southern and northern Ontario. The new interest in renewables might help radically transform the province's utility, Ontario Hydro, into a proponent or even a world leader in renewable energy and sustainable development.

Thus far, however, "Hydro has not seriously considered renewable energy sources, other than hydroelectric, as options for meeting demand," states Hydro's Task Force in its report on Sustainable Energy Development. Toronto wind power developer Stephen Headford agrees. In 1992, Headford's Ontario Windpower Developers Inc, in a joint venture with Kenetech Corporation of San Francisco, offered to build a 9.8 MW (average) wind farm to deliver 85.9 GWh annually to Ontario Hydro. The proposed site, near Sudbury, 330 km north of Toronto, was chosen because "it has the best wind in Ontario and is ideally located near a strategic demand centre in an industrial area," Headford says. "We made a serious, good faith bid with Hydro's encouragement. All we wanted was a power contract containing a small adder to cover the demonstration component, but Hydro walked away from us. How can the wind industry document its absolute maturity if Hydro won't take our demonstration projects?" he questions.

The market-oriented task force report now appears to call for re-consideration. "Were it not for Hydro's existing surplus supplyƉmany of the wind technologies now used in California would be viable in Ontario, when subjected to the discipline of integrated resource planning (IRP)," it states. The task force urges the provincial utility to institute public reviews of its power planning process by 1995, to apply IRP to all supply and demand side spending starting in 1994, and to implement full cost energy accounting.

Hydro should also acquire at least 25 MW of new renewable generating capacity from 1994 to 2000, whether or not the present reported large surplus in generating capacity persists, and should procure a certain percentage of all future capacity from renewable sources, continues the report. Renewables should be explicitly favoured in the purchase of new non utility generation, and pilot renewable energy generating stations, which would likely include one or more wind farms, should be supported.

Re-direct resources

Ontario's Council on Renewable Energy (CORE) presented its report to the Ministry of Environment and Energy (MOEE) last summer. Although its recommendations have not yet been published, they seem consistent with those of Hydro's task force. In its covering letter to MOEE, CORE says that "political commitment and some re-directed resources are needed; but improved co-ordination and removal of institutional barriers also deserve attention."

CORE was established by the former energy ministry in 1991 to recommend a pro-active provincial renewable energy strategy through collaboration between proponents and stakeholders. The 16 CORE members include wind power advocates Headford, representing the Canadian Wind Energy Association, Jake Brooks of the Independent Power Producers' Society of Ontario (IPPSO), and anti-nuclear activist David Martin of the Ontario Energy Environment Caucus.

Wayne Lessard, a provincial member of parliament, says that MOEE will implement many of the CORE recommendations. Speaking for the government at the annual IPPSO conference in November, Lessard pledged that the ministry will create marketing strategies to gain wider acceptance of renewable technology, act as an advocate within government to remove regulatory and financial barriers to renewable energy production, and work with Ontario Hydro to implement the CORE recommendations.

As a potential harbinger of the new declared receptiveness to wind energy, publicly owned Ontario Energy Corporation (OEC) is funding a 12 month wind resource assessment by Zephyr North of Burlington, Ontario, for at least two ventures in the remote north. OEC is discussing off-grid wind-diesel projects with two communities inland of Hudson Bay and over 350 km northwest of Moosonee: the Attawapishat and Weenusk First Nations. The OEC is mandated to initiate commercial energy projects in northern Ontario to benefit Aboriginal peoples and other northerners.

In south-western Ontario, the agricultural firm Canadian Agra Corporation in November formally inaugurated its 80 kW Lagerwey LW 18/80, grid-connected wind turbine near Kincardine and the shore of Lake Huron. The demonstration project is jointly sponsored by Canadian Agra, CANMET (Canada Centre for Mineral and Energy Technology, the R&D arm of Natural Resources Canada), MOEE and Ontario Hydro (Windpower Monthly, September 1993). Dutch Industries Ltd of Regina, Saskatchewan, is the Canadian supplier, and manufacturer of portions of the turbine.

"Data from the turbine gained in 1994 could lead to construction of a 5-10 MW wind farm on Canadian Agra land in the area, which would stimulate $6 to 12 million in investment," says project manager Phillip Andres. The objectives of the project include correlation of actual turbine performance with predictions from wind data; determination of icing effects and methods to mitigate them; studies of performance and reliability; and investigation of power surges and other transients on the utility interface with wind turbines. Power will be wheeled to a Canadian Agra office building whose demand profile matches its output.

Andres also says that a "complete economic feasibility study of a wind farm, based on a 1992-1993 wind resource assessment and the practical experience gained in operating the test turbine, will begin in summer 1994." Canadian Agra will seek to sell the power to Ontario Hydro, if it resumes purchases of new non-utility generation. "Alternatively, a shared ownership structure for load displacement could be negotiated with Ontario Hydro and other interested parties," says Andres.

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