Downtown Toronto turbine at last -- Lagerwey wins high-profile spot

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A 750 kW unit from Lagerwey Windturbine International of the Netherlands has been picked for a high-profile location on the waterfront of the Canadian city of Toronto. The project, being developed by Toronto Hydro Energy Services, a city owned utility, and the Toronto Renewable Energy Co-operative (TREC), will be in place by fall. The contract signed with Lagerwey is for C$1.2 million.

The turbine is to go up on the western edge of Toronto's 192 acre Exhibition Place, visited by 4.5 million each year and home to the Canadian National Exhibition. Foundation work is to begin immediately and the arrival of the direct drive turbine and 65 metre tower is expected in September. It will be the only wind turbine in Canada with a city location.

"It's part of our commitment to our customers and the city to develop green electricity sources that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve our local air quality," says Hilda Mackow, president and CEO of Toronto Hydro Energy Services. "Because of the prominent location, the turbine will go a long way in raising public awareness of the benefits of this renewable technology."

Green power

The turbine is expected to produce 1800 MWh a year, enough electricity for about 250 Toronto homes. Toronto Hydro plans to market its 50% share of the turbine's output as part of a green power program available to businesses and homes. TREC, a member owned co-operative founded in 1997, is selling shares in the turbine and already has 150 people who have put down deposits.

Project manager Deb Doncaster says TREC plans to sell 8000 shares for C$100 each. Members, who pay C$1 to join the co-op, must buy at least five shares, although for corporate members that minimum requirement may be set at 50 shares. In return, members will receive an energy credit on their Toronto Hydro electricity bill for the life of the turbine.

The federal government, too, may claim a portion of the turbine's output. It has partially funded TREC by providing C$240,000 towards the purchase of the wind turbine and C$90,000 to help develop the community-based model of wind energy. The government now has an option to buy electricity for federal facilities in the City of Toronto.

To meet the anticipated demand for wind power in the city, the joint venture already has plans to install a second turbine, also on the city's waterfront, and a permit is being finalised on the second site. Frank Pickersgill, Lagerwey's representative in North America, says negotiations are underway for the Dutch company to supply this machine as well. Except for a handful of 80 kW turbines installed in remote northern locations, dating back to 1994, this is Lagerwey's first utility scale wind turbine in North America. Pickersgill says he's "at the contract stage" on two more installations, one in Canada and one in the US.

"There are lots of projects on the drawing board now in Canada," he says. "That's why a company like ours is saying this is a market we really have to get serious about.

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