Posted by: energyblogwalter | October 26, 2009

Oakville Power plant pollution?

Dear MOE,

Unfortunately not two words mentioned in your email reply helped
answer my questions.  I’ve rewritten them below in hopes of a clearer
answer.  As well, I included the OPA representative mentioned in your
post to this email in hopes of a broader opportunity for answers and

Basically in a nutshell consider :

Item:  What are the local or Ontario equivalent tree planting
abatement amounts for the pollution that will be created by this new
power plant?

Item:  If you are not using the planting of trees to offset the
pollution created, why not?  Is another abatement method used?  MOE
has a tree planting program to cut pollution.  Can it not be put to
use here?  Again, I don’t understand why the dots are not connected,
directly, with specific projects that cause pollution.  Please

Item:  If you create pollution in the community you have to remove it.
Thus actually using trees to remove pollution would reduce the cries
from residents that you’re polluting their homes and not listening to
their pollution concerns wouldn’t it?  I don’t understand why this is
a challenge.

Item: No matter the technnology, pollution is an inevitable result in
mostly all industrial processes.  What is your pollution abatement
policy ie: 1 tonne of emissions  = x number of trees?  State it for me
please or whichever abatement process you have.  If none, just say
none, but explain why it is so.

Please reply via human being, not misdirected copy-paste.  Pray tell
me you can answer these simple points, on topic, or redirect to some
other human who would be willing to try.

Thank you

On Mon, Oct 26, 2009 at 2:48 PM, MOE CCU (ENE) wrote:
> Thank you for your e-mail to the Minister of the Environment regarding
> concerns about a proposed power plant in Oakville.  I am pleased to reply on
> behalf of the Minister.
> First, let me assure you that the Ministry of the Environment (MOE) is
> committed to a healthy environment for all Ontarians.  Clean air is a key
> component of that commitment.  The MOE’s role is to ensure the environment
> is protected in the planning, development and operation of electricity
> projects through requirements under the Environmental Assessment Act (EAA),
> the Environmental Protection Act (EPA) and the Ontario Water Resources Act
> (OWRA), where applicable.
> As you may already know, the Ontario Power Authority (OPA) administers the
> South-West Greater Toronto Area (South-West GTA) procurement program.  The
> OPA was established under the Electricity Act as the province’s planning
> authority for electricity supply.  Under the South-West GTA procurement, the
> OPA received proposals for the supply of up to 900-megawatts of new, natural
> gas-fired generation to be located in the South-West GTA.
> On September 30, 2009, the OPA announced that TransCanada Corporation was
> the successful proponent to build and operate a proposed 900-megawatt power
> plant, to be located in Oakville.
> For further information about the OPA’s procurement process, I encourage you
> to contact […]  Director of Procurement, Electricity Resource Division,
> OPA […]
> In addition, all natural gas-fired generation facilities must be planned and
> developed in accordance with the Environmental Screening Process (ESP) under
> the Environmental Assessment Act (EAA).
> The ESP is described in the “Guide to Environmental Assessment Requirements
> for Electricity Projects”.  The guide can be found on the MOE web site at
> The ESP requires that proponents evaluate the project against screening
> criteria set out in the guide to identify the potential for any negative
> environmental effects that may be caused at any stage in the project life
> cycle, as well as describe mitigation measures and net effects of the
> project.  Several of the screening criteria address issues which you are
> concerned about, including the potential for the project to have negative
> effects on health and the environment.
> TransCanada must finalize the required Environmental Review Report and make
> it available for public review and comment for a minimum 30-day period.  The
> company will be required to provide adequate notice through measures that
> may include newspaper advertisements, notice on its web site and letters to
> adjacent property owners.
> In addition to the EAA requirements, the facility will also require a
> Certificate of Approval from the MOE.  TransCanada cannot apply for approval
> until it has fully completed the EAA process.  Before a Certificate of
> Approval can be issued, the company must demonstrate that the facility can
> meet or exceed provincial standards and be operated in an environmentally
> responsible manner.  I would like to assure you that TransCanada Corporation
> will also be required to address the potential cumulative impacts of its
> proposal.
> I have attached a fact sheet which also summarizes the environmental
> assessment and approvals processes.
> On September 30, 2009, the MOE announced that it will establish a Task Force
> to develop, with a community advisory committee, an action plan for
> improving air quality in the Clarkson-Oakville Airshed.  The Task Force has
> a mandate to report back to the ministry by the end of June 2010 on an
> action plan that includes targets, timelines, strategies and reporting
> requirements that address local industrial, vehicular and residential
> sources of air pollution.  Further details on the Task Force will be
> announced in the near future.
> Sincerely,
> Name Omitted
> Director, Central Region

Posted by: energyblogwalter | October 6, 2009

Fighting modified cheese at Metro

Sent a nice email to Metro over their decision to cut the Equality brand.  I for one am not in favour of every food being modified when I clearly had a choice.  Now that choice is gone.  Feel free to ask Metro why yourself here:

Hello Metro,

I was wondering what happened to the Equality brand for cheeses?  When I buy brick cheese it would normally not have more than 5 ingredients and nothing that said “modified” in it.  Only “””Milk, bacterial culture, salt, colour, microbial enzyme”””.  That’s it.  Very nice.

Now unfortunately the “Selection” brand includes “modified milk ingredients” along with a dozen other ingredients.  That’s quite a quality change.  I’m not interested.

I would like to purchase cheese that is not modified nor partially modified.  I had though that now being from Quebec we’d have higher quality cheese, not less so.

I’m quite surprised.  Thus here’s my email to support local cheese minus modified ingredients.  Even to ask you to consider a non-modified food section.  This change makes me wary of the “Selection” brand if it’s just a label over modified products I would otherwise not purchase.

In particular this store is beside Ryerson University.  Likely students will want cheap food to be sure, but some will also perhaps be more mindful of the ingredients and would be happy to support local providers.  As a local resident I am certainly one.

Please let me know why there are zero non-modified cheeses available for purchase at Metro today, and why this sudden change of practise over the last month.

With Best Regards,

Posted by: energyblogwalter | October 1, 2009

Re: Council rejects Don Mills community centre offer

While on the surface this is good news, the 17-16 vote means that the OMB will likely approve it along with the 1,387 condo development when the developers go crying to them.

This is crazy!  We’re not going to solve issues of climate change and peak oil at 12-26 storey buildings developments.  No. Not even in a dream. Density only works with 100% inputs of energy from somewhere else and not locally sourced. To have condos is to need nuclear power. Insisting on density reflects the insanity of our age on so many levels.

Given city council ignorance of any topic of environmental focus this looks to be only a fluke delay, not denied.

Toronto Star Link: Council rejects Don Mills community centre offer

Posted by: energyblogwalter | September 16, 2009

Re: ‘Car-free’ condo : Toronto Star Sept 16th 2009

bye bye cute building... thanks for all the history

bye bye cute building... thanks for all the history

Partial blog thread from TheStar article ” ‘Car-free’ condo: 42 storeys, no parking” located here:

Here’s a current outrage to relentless condo development.    The central theme is that we are building condos at any cost and after Peak Oil condos will be useless anyway.  Poor little building, probably the last history on University Ave from a century ago.  Notice how human scaled and stylish it is?  Versus how the buildings around it make you feel like an ant.  This is a building worth saving, not the monoliths around it.

I was surprised I had a majority positive agreement on some posts noted below.  Condos are an easy target though, so I don’t think its due to understanding energy.  Anyway, given the positive feedback, maybe the city isn’t so blind to its environment after all?   Unfortunately it will be too late for this building.  Better book a tour now before it’s gone.  This little building for the Royal Canadian Military Institute on University Ave was build in 1907.  Survived building booms over two World Wars, including the 1960’s and 70’s concrete and glass marvels left and right to it.  Now slated to be … condos.  What a sad pathetic joke to think our city cares about anything.

Thread posts follow…


only a few more years to go…

Funny but that building would have survived Peak Oil. Now, with it’s demise underway, and our disdain for history apparent, that 1907 building which is a part of our heritage will be gone forever over nothing. Ironically, this is the only building in that area that can be renovated to be 100% off grid with geothermal and passive solar. Otherwise all condos and all buildings of crazy density require 100% energy inputs. Buildings rely on cheap abundant energy to exist. When that goes, so does the rationale for tall buildings. As Peak Oil goes, so too the end of the condo. This little one held for over 100 years, if only a few years more.

Submitted by energyblogwalter at 2:02 PM Wednesday, September 16 2009

* Agree 3
* |
* Disagree 2
* |
* Alert a moderator

Another condo for the Generation of Denial

Condos rely on natural gas and electricity and nothing else can power them. It is next to impossible to generate enough local energy per person because there are too many people there, as natural systems require comparable surface area (above or underground). Thus condos rely on natural gas and nuclear power to exist. If you are pro-condo but anti-nuclear this is a hypocrisy that you may not have considered. The historical building should be left alone. It won’t matter in a few years anyway.

Submitted by energyblogwalter at 2:08 PM Wednesday, September 16 2009

* Agree 5
* |
* Disagree 3
* |
* Alert a moderator

Peak Oil

Survived Peak Oil? The peak oil crisis has more to do with cars and low density suburban housing and the decline of that. Energy is mostly created by nuclear and hydro. Although some is created by Fossil fuel, its a small portion in Ontario. While this is not to say that there is no energy issue because there is, the biggest peak oil issue is low density housing. Most of these tall glass buildings are heated by electric, not oil. Different energy, different crisis.

Submitted by jdub at 2:22 PM Wednesday, September 16 2009

* Agree
* |
* Disagree 4
* |
* Alert a moderator

@jdub 2:22pm

uh, no, if you’re in Peak Oil and you live in a condo, you can no longer drive oodles of distances everyday of the week. With shopping so far away and no ability to have a garden for even supplemental help, it is a living arrangement that cannot survive. New electricity generation is natural gas(NG) powered, since renewables aren’t ready, thus fast condos drive fast NG development. Contrast this with net-metered homes that do not drive dependency on fossil fuels. Sorry to burst your bubble.

Submitted by energyblogwalter at 3:11 PM Wednesday, September 16 2009

* Agree 4
* |
* Disagree 1
* |
* Alert a moderator

Posted by: energyblogwalter | September 12, 2009

Real Condo Critic: 38 The Esplanade

Everything we detest in a building, and lots more!

A 3-4 story building is about all you can do for a lot this size, and still make enough local energy for all the businesses and residents (like Bloor/Danforth etc).  But a giant glass building like this one (no different from any other) requires 100% energy inputs from large power plants.  With Peak Oil on the horizon this is not the future.

Danforth-type streets will survive, this will not.  Note that condo dwellers cannot recoup solar energy against their monthly fees as it’s not in the contract!  This building is a total loss and would have to be demolished down to the 3rd floor.  To fight Global Warming and Peak Oil means understanding our energy usage. Sadly, here we see The Boomer Delusion continuing.

Post Carbon Rating: FFFF

Posted by: energyblogwalter | August 19, 2009

Metrolinx Request For Comments: Electrification

This post follows the idea that to ask me a question about ideas for energy systems in Ontario is to get an answer from the viewpoint of Peak Oil.  So when Metrolinx emailed me for comments regarding issues comparing electrification versus diesel in trains and transportation, I of course was happy to oblige.  Metrolinx is the Ontario government agency responsible for developing a plan to improve the transportation systems of Ontario.

Suffice it to say that I believe if we focus on reducing our energy waste to being with, this provides the necessary available energy left over to electrify the transportation industry for fun and profit.    Here’s the form online:

My comments to their questions follow:

• How does the future of diesel technology compare to electric technology?
• What emerging technologies provide viable alternatives to either electric or diesel power?
• What are the trade-offs of more frequent service, or shorter/faster trains?

Q–How does the future of diesel technology compare to electric technology?

**Diesel Fuel**;

–low efficiency < 45% in transportation to move at a loss thus higher cost,
–requires much fuel station and refilling infrastructure,
–subject to geopolitics or change by someone else’s laws in another region,
–available now as currently used, however is in decline and has no long term future, (
–single source point of generation,
–while in use diesel is polluting and non-renewable,
–increasing cost,
–not made locally, not made in Canada but imported for refinement,
–thus no local ownership by people,

**Electricity as Fuel**;

–highest efficiency > 90% in transportation to move not at a loss thus lower cost,
–thus less energy needed and lower overall infrastructure,
–made locally, we have a lot of land to create it,
–variety of sources means that you do not need to identify the source, but only the amount required,
–thus providing the greatest flexibility with multi-point sources of generation and not a single fail-point,
–reducing cost as more capacity comes online over a broader area,
–can even be made by houses,
–people can make it directly and are themselves end users,
–net-metering etc means direct ownership by people,
–sources can be both non-renewable but also including renewable
–while in use is non-polluting,
–if locally made then locally based prices, inflation , or economic conditions,
–overall cheaper for any municipality or province when all inputs are included,
–possible within the year,
–will be the definition of comparison with other advanced nations,
–will cut carbon dioxide emissions by the megatonne

Q–What emerging technologies provide viable alternatives to either electric or diesel power?

Geothermal and all thermal based energy systems as the new base-load replacement.  We have land we have water and sun with disproportionate reduced population and thus can have a base load throughout the province in addition to any renewable system.


—walkable cities,
—elimination on the need to travel to begin with, ie: urban farming,

Q–What are the trade-offs of more frequent service, or shorter/faster trains?

Only weak service modes prevents increased adoption.  If you’re not serious you will not get a serious result.  If you are not seeing trains as number one, or the design does not show trains as number one then forever will they be in the back seat.  If the car is the winner in planning decisions and transport infrastructure then train adoption can never increase due to bias and favouritism.  Bias and favour trains or cars.  Not both.  Car infrastructure is 100x more costly than train infrastructure.  Waterloo Chamber of Commerce study showing that restarting train service costs only $9 million dollars while making a limited new highway cost in the hundreds of millions of dollars.  Therefore transportation planning that avoids trains as more cost effective is akin to a raving nutter.

Look elsewhere.  In Japan there are 6 types of overland train service (not including Shinkasen or subways).  Their trains are called : Local, Semi-express, Express, Limited express, Rapid express, and Limited rapid express!  Coming back to Toronto was a big let down.

Note that while focusing on the multi-mode trains as the only viable and cost effective method does not disallow cars and trucks, however it focuses modal use and our tax dollars to the multi-modal trains that a local train alone can obviously never accomplish.  Instead a maximun overall benefit to the most number of people is achieved.  (This obvious thing to people in Japan and Europe would take a miracle to be accepted here).  Given the social context problems, go big or go home.  Go to Japan, take the train.  Understand through experience.

“Transport Revolutions : How to move freight without oil” (2007);


The need to electrify transportation will be met by a decline in oil resources due to Peak Oil regardless of the time frame for that change.  5-10 years maximum delay.  We are lucky that this recession has delayed us a few more years to make a useful plan.  With a diminished diesel fuel capacity inevitable anyway, it will be necessary to electrify as much as possible which can be achieved locally.  Diesel is not local and is a limiting factor in the security of our food, goods and people as fuel prices waver upwards.

Electricity can be made locally and is not subject to international geopolitical issues of sources of diesel.  Due to our rather contrived pipeline system in Canada, we do not have the pipeline capacity for East/West or West/East transport of fuels.  Thus because of this design, Canadians import their oil from the Middle East because it’s cheaper to do so, while selling tarsands to the US.  Thus diesel fuels are a limiting factor to Canada and are based on continual international goodwill.

Instead, if we use our electrical excess for transportation as a replacement for transportation fuels such as diesel use, we cut down our need to buy fuels from overseas which saves various governments a lot of revenue in various forms to apply elsewhere.  Replacement improves our transportation security, food security, population security.  Quantifying the security of mobility of food people and goods cannot be done with diesel without international costs and systems outside of Canadian control, laws, accountability or planning.  Even if Electrification at the local level is more expensive than diesel usage, due to the amount of savings gained by standard local pricing due to local generation, Electrification wins over a regional system in both the short and long term.

Considering transportation represent more than 80% of all oil usage, this would solve any prospect of an international crisis on any reduced or speculative oil production.  (ie: 2007 $147 per barrel might return, might not, why guess?  Why not plan for never?  Why suffer needlessly?)

Electrification alleviates international pressure into a local market, thus stabilizing prices and planning.

Community and health impacts
• What are the local and regional impacts with respect to emissions, noise, and quality of life?

People will die less often.  Respiratory illnesses will go down from photochemical smog and NOx values and the key ingredients to create the pollution are no longer present for the chemistry to occur.

More eyes on the street, a term from Jane Jacobs, referring on why some streets are safer than others.  Not so dense a place to live that you hide away from everyone, but not so separate as well that you don’t know anybody.  Another happy medium for greater safety in a mixed marketplace 1-5 story world (ie: Paris-esque and Bloor-Danforth renovation)

• Is there enough electricity supply to support system-wide electrification?
• What will the electric grid look like over time?

Q–Is there enough electricity supply to support system-wide electrification?

Yes.  According the nobel physicist US Energy Secretary Chu, homes can cheaply paint their rooftops white, thus saving 20% per year of their energy needs.  Homes with reduced energy needs would thus have available excess energy from the system put towards electrification.  This can be done in 1-2 years under a mandate to all Ontario housing and business rooftops to be white to support regional transit and reduced taxes.  If we can replace incandescent lightbulbs for such a minimal effect, why not replace black rooftops with white for a more obvious one?  Like the CFC bulb, it would make magnitudes of difference in energy demands.

Also note that Ontario has had a drop in electrical demand since 2006 due to a crash of the energy in the manufacturing sector thus already providing cushion.

No new nuclear, no solar panels.  The above is doable right now.  Sad isn’t it?

Q–What will the electric grid look like over time

Multi modal as much as trains.  Beyond just painting a roof white, a home with solar or designed to be 125% or greater energy positive like a region in Freiburg Germany, connected to centralized power to offset the to and fro of supply.  This would be supply organized at the local level by people for their direct economic benefit and interaction.

No point it giving nuclear $40 billion when we can supply our own electrical needs along with transportation supply for less than $1 billion a year, with a majority of that money going to painting a roof (then later renovation) of people’s homes.  By reinvesting in people we connect people to ownership of the resources.

With people now in energy partnership of resources, banks will offer an energy mortgage for net metering of the cost of the home.  Thus creating banking security of the monetary supply and not only being a government run program.  To be successful the banks must be involved.  If they see the monetary security as this example implies, then energy improvements and investments can happen more fluidity.

Land use planning
• How will different energy supply options impact land use development?

The Geography of Nowhere (my ongoing blog)

I’ve thought a lot about this and have a solution and a vision which I hope to implement as a future engineer in my new career post-IT phase.

At some point there will be recognition of the fact that too few people occupying a space is too costly but also the same for too much density.  When cheap abundant energy is gone due to Peak Oil etc, we will be forced to use proven mathematics and environmental science that shows us that any given plot of land has access to sunlight and geothermal or other thermal properties.  These land lot properties will define the upper bounds of available energy of the land.  Divided by energy per person will determine the number of people on the lot.

Density makes cost cheap, but energy poor since any available energy is divided by too many people.  Thus urban farming marketplace Paris-style living with 3-5 story maximum height buildings will be the norm, and the most effective middle ground in energy efficiency for those people.  These people will not need 100% of their energy imported from outside their residences.  Excess goes to the grid, where they are paid thanks to net-metering.  The net-metering rate currently at 500mW may then be be tweaked higher as needed by transportation.  Investment will go to building buildings of the appropriate lot size at the right medium density as determined by mathematics not architecture or location or cashola.  These medium neighbourhoods will be the energy producers.

At some point as well, development of the land is then fully occupied.  This then creates a limit of zero.  Should an area be filled with enough producers and users up to its mathematical limit imposed by the energy-per-lot, then that area is considered full, and can no longer accept any new development.  Development would then have physical and mathematical constraints, and would no longer be trumped by the OMB.  Since people in houses and mixed density would be mostly producers anyway, there is no incentive to lose energy, and therefore money, with more density.  Thus investment goes towards non-full areas until done, leaving medium density energy sustainable living.  High moves to a low.

Condos require 100% energy inputs as do most apartment buildings and businesses.  Unable (or unwilling ie: condo fee agreements do not go down if you generate your own power) to generate their own power they will be the consumers of power.  They will pay the 1-5 story building dwellers for their exported energy, as well as be dependent on Ontario energy services.

Land use changes to remove suburban, condos, cars, and driving as non-investments will occur based on energy and liveable marketplaces that produce energy

System costs, funding, financing and delivery
• What are the capital costs for converting the current diesel GO network to electric?
• What are the differences in operating costs between energy supply options?

Again Chu noted a 20% energy savings on a painted white roof.

So then, paint the roof white on every house in Ontario.  Mandatory White Roof Law.  $1 Billion or less.  No new solar, or nuclear is required at this point.  Can be done today. That’s it.  Let’s do the least we can do first.

From Transport Revolutions: Moving freight without oil (2007), I vaguely remember a statistic that it would cost only 11% of the renewable energy wealth of the USA to electrify all of its transportation system to replace oil based transport.  It could be higher it could be lower.

Doesn’t matter.  With a 20% reduction in energy needs in the home and that excess going towards transport electrification instead, it is clearly viable in only the time it takes to paint all the rooftops white, all without requiring not a single new technology.

Obviously it can’t be 100%, some anthropogenic delays, some homes 15%, others 30% etc, but overall it’s that simple.

Ridership and usage of transit
• How will electrification impact service?
• Will electrification increase ridership?
• Will electrification increase reliability?

Increased service will result due to new serious focus on trains.  With less pollution generated and more available trains for almost twice the available energy of diesel, must increase ridership.  This will not be linear though and be related only to the convenience of the services in an area. (ie: 6 train types in Japan again)

With fewer moving parts with electrification this will result in increased reliability and reduced expense to municipalities for repair and servicing.  Reliability in Canada also means dealing with winter.  With direct electrification we avoid the issues of loss due to battery depletion known to occur in -20C weather.


Posted by: energyblogwalter | August 18, 2009

Petition: White Roof

I made a petition today to support legislation for transitioning to mandatory white rooftops at

“””We the undersigned support legislation for transitioning to mandatory white rooftops either painted or by design in order to massively reduce our energy costs by 20-30% throughout the year thereby saving money, reducing energy generation and demands, heat island effects, attributed GHG’s, because it is exceedingly cheap to do without requiring lifestyle changes for the same benefits. “””

If we can replace incandescent light bulbs with CFC ones, how about we do something even more meaningful and also cheap to do? This is an extension of my post Ontario Net Metering + White Rooftop = Crazy Savings


« Newer Posts - Older Posts »