Toronto project ready to go -- Call for wind plant supply

Toronto Renewable Energy Co-operative (TREC) and Toronto Hydro Energy Services have issued a call for tenders for North America's first urban wind turbine, destined for the east end of the city's waterfront. The joint venture partners are seeking a 660 kW to 1 MW machine to be running by the spring.

TREC and Toronto Hydro will split the capital cost of the turbine and share its output. The 50% taken by Toronto Hydro will supply its green power program, while TREC members will, following an up-front investment, receive an energy credit on their Toronto Hydro electricity bill for the life of the turbine. It is the largest net metering agreement of its kind on the continent, says TREC general manager Bryan Young.

TREC is the first Canadian co-op formed to develop renewable energy and has been working on the project since 1997. In 1999, it teamed up with Toronto Hydro, which was looking for a foothold in the green power market. The path to the call for suppliers has been long and complex , says TREC's Deborah Doncaster. The siting process began in 1997 and has included 14 public meetings and dealt with a lot of misconceptions about wind energy from not only city residents, but public officials. Environmental assessment and conservation authorities delayed an already complex approvals process by asking for "more and more and more and more information just to get up to speed," she says. "Lack of familiarity with the technology on the part of public officials has had a huge impact on this project."

Doncaster would like to see the experience TREC gained in overcoming these hurdles transferred to other Canadian cities with a wind resource, where high profile installations could help educate the public, and the politicians, about wind energy.

Meantime, the partners will work on expanding their efforts to bring wind power to Toronto. Their first turbine is part of a larger project that could see up to three wind turbines in the city.

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