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Toronto citizens' wind initiative

Excitement in the environmentally-conscious city of Toronto for a single turbine wind project has yet to match the progress of its organisers to make it happen. The proposed turbine, a 660 kW Vestas unit, is potentially slated for one of four sites on Lake Ontario. The current favourite is at Gibraltar Point on the southwest tip of the Toronto Islands. The project proposer, the Toronto Renewable Energy Co-operative (TREC), is in the midst of finding enough members to raise the C$1.2 million needed for the project. In June it launched a drive to sell 660 shares in the turbine. Purchasers, in theory, will be entitled to subtract the value of the output of their share of the turbine from their monthly electricity bills. "We would be the first commercial urban wind turbine in North America," proclaims Brian Young of TREC. But the necessary extension to a pilot net billing system on which the scheme is based has been cold shouldered by utility Toronto Hydro. "We don't sell distribution services separate from the sale of electricity," says Toronto Hydro's Bruce MacOdrum, adding that the utility is required by law to sell a bundled service. Only when its services are unbundled -- splitting transmission and distribution from other services -- can it offer a rate for wheeling power and cater to the proposed wind project, MacOdrum explains. A potential break up in the monopoly of the province's electric market (below) offers some hope to TREC. However, the project "would be a huge increase in scope" to the Toronto Hydro's pilot net billing program, whose monitoring and billing would require extensive modifications, says MacOdrum. Currently the program is limited to 50 kW generating units. The wind turbine proposal is the second for Toronto. A 600 kW Tacke unit is being considered for the city's waterfront by Ontario Hydro for its Clear Choice program (Windpower Monthly, February 1998).

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