Will energy plans change our area forever?

By MPP Toby Barrett

This year’s Jarvis Symposium on Energy and Our Environment pulled together companies, unions, engineers, activists and others to discuss everything from wind, solar and coal generation to natural gas and nuclear – just about everything except hydro dam turbines, something that was discussed the week before at Port Dover’s Save Silver Lake meeting.

Exhibits ranged from solar, to carbon sequestration, to energy conservation, and climate change.

The audience included all sides of the energy debate, area media, plus Councillors Jim Oliver, John Wells, Leroy Bartlett, Fred Morrison, and Rob Shirton.

Rick Prudil of the Power Workers Union kicked things off with their support for “recycling” Ontario coal plants to natural gas and biofuel. He noted that their plans to convert Nanticoke would cost less than the proposed and now shelved Oakville natural gas plant. They have requested the province do an in depth study of the feasibility of using biomass at Nanticoke, Atikokan, Thunder Bay and Lambton. Further details can be accessed at www.pwu.ca.

Jim Elve from Energy Quest for Nanticoke summarized the local Bruce Power saga and sounded warning on the shipping of radioactive waste on the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence. More information can be found at www.energyquest4nanticoke.ca.

OPG Nanticoke plant manager Craig Wardrop described “repowering” opportunities for conversion of some of the coal fired units to fill provincial energy needs. He noted the low cost benefit of conversion from coal to natural gas, and the potential of
Ontario-sourced-and-processed biomass at Nanticoke to provide economic benefit for agriculture and forestry. For more information and OPG Nanticoke contacts: http://www.opg.com/power/fossil/nanticoke.asp.

Samsung was up next, with spokesperson Marnie Dawson providing a big picture overview of the $7.9 billion deal that will bring 140 MW of wind generation, and 100 MW ground mount solar over 15,000 acres of Haldimand County. Following the presentation, questions ran from impacts on neighbours, to depletion of farmland, job creation and how to fight project locations in the wake of the Green Energy Act. I was happy to field the final question explaining I voted against the Green Energy Act and its power to neuter municipal input on energy planning decisions. Samsung is planning a meeting in the new year. For more, www.samsungrenewableenergy.ca.

Keeping with the theme of local power proposals, Duncan McEachern gave a brief synopsis of Competitive Power Venture’s natural gas plans for property just north of Nanticoke, adding that he hopes to hold another meeting in January to provide more on the possible development of a natural gas pipeline and power plant. Check out www.cpvnanticoke.ca/ for more.

Cayuga’s Grant Church presented, Climate Change – A Cloud of Deception. He concluded, “I don’t think we have anything to worry about. The only thing we can say for sure is that if CO2 increases, plants will grow better.”

Paul Serruys of the Clean and Affordable Energy Alliance did the final presentation of the evening focussing on rising energy costs driving business and jobs out of province. He noted that, “Misguided energy policies are causing the worst financial crisis in the history of Ontario.”

Upcoming Open Houses include Next Era – a project area ranging from Rainham Centre to Marburg – at the Jarvis Community Centre December 7th , 5 to 8pm, and Samsung in early 2011.

There is a real potential for significant energy plans to change our area forever. There’s much to discuss – let’s all stay plugged in.