Sunday, February 12, 2006

Bussin's Power Failure - Grey Matter

The latest NDP propaganda campaign in this neck of the woods is a 'protest movement' against the construction of a natural gas-fired power plant on some derelict land next to the abandoned Hearn power plant at the eastern end of Toronto's port.

There seems to be some confusion as to the exact location of the Portlands Energy Center. The map in The Star shows it as 6 Leslie - while the P.E.C. website shows it on Unwin. Regardless, it about the same size as the site on which the shell of the Hearn power plant sits.

What isn't at all confusing is the nature of the NDP position - pure propaganda. Let's consider but a few points.

Characterization of the 550 MW proposal as a "monster power plant"

Well - NDP propagandists have been hard at work on labels for the plant - some of these are 'monster', and 'super-sized'. Well, let's be real, 550 MW is not an atypical size for a new N.G. power plant. In fact, a World Bank study indicates that most plants being being are in the 300 MW to 600 MW range.

So it's hard to see how the planned 550 MW plant is a monster.

The 'clean green plan'

The NDPites are pushing a 'green' plan where the size of the new plant is reduced to 250 MW. The difference is made up using a combination of:

- energy conservation projects
- various small generation projects

The biggest problem with the NDP 'plan' is that most of the big ticket items that will replace the 300 MW would take many years to implement. The 'plan' isn't really a plan because it:

- gives no time frame for each of the items AND
- a number of items are documented with the caveat "energy calculation unavailable"

Take for example the expected energy savings from Deep Water Lake Cooling. Well, using deep lake water is great - but it is capital intensive and time consuming to implement.

At Cornell University, the Lake Source Cooling project took seven years from study through construction completion. This would seem to be a best case scenario - as Cornell is a contiguous space under one adminstration. Cornell is full of large buildings - many of which were already hooked up to a somewhat integrated cooling system. [40% of campus was already hooked up to a central cooling system. ]

Here in Toronto, hooking up large buildings to the LSC system is more challenging - just look at how long the construction at Roy Thompson Hall has been going on.

If this plan were software, we'd call it vapourware.

What is being saved?

Of course the biggest slight of hand in this all too ovbious political card trick is to claim that precious lakre front land would be saved.

This is complete poppycock. The 'green' plan has the smaller plant (i.e. 250 MW) located on the current site of the Hearn power station - whereas the P.E.C. would be directly adjacent. From everything I can tell, the two pieces of land are about the same size. If the P.E.C. goes ahead, the Hearn site could be cleared and made available for other uses.

Regardless, the transmission lines along Commissioners would need to remain in place.

What about the official plan?

We're constantly bombarded without other propaganda about the 1 million new residents we can expect in Toronto over the next few decades. Even if some or all of the 'green' plan elements were implemented, there is still continuing upward pressure on the demand side. A 250 MW plant would likely tide us over for a short period. After that, we'd be back to an impending crisis.

Let's not forget that the capital costs for the larger plant will be proportionally smaller per unit of output - as there are many fixed costs associated with the construction of a plant.

Methinks that the biggest power failer is actually in Sandra Bussin's grey matter.

No comments: