Careless environmental ideology was a root cause of the blackout

Heatwave! Less than 9% efficiency

Brad Duguid, Ontario’s Minister of Energy and Infrastructure, said it would be difficult for the government to invest more aggressively in upgrading the transmission system because consumers are already facing higher power prices from investments the province is making in new sources [wind, solar] of electricity generation. ~ Globe and Mail

Financial Post  By Tom Adams

Careless environmental ideology was a root cause of the blackout that cut off power to tens of thousands of Toronto homes, businesses, and institutions for several hours during rush hour on Monday this week.

Although a full technical report on the event is not yet available, it is clear that some transformer station equipment at the Manby transformer station in west Toronto failed. Transmission planning experts have long identified a failure at Manby as a known risk to the reliability of Toronto’s electricity supply. Three years ago, the Ontario Power Authority published a transmission plan for the province that included a detailed scenario analysis for a failure at Manby almost identical to Monday’s event. Unfortunately, that transmission plan got shelved, replaced by government directives to support more wind and solar generators.

Transmission experts have also long recognized that the power transmission network upon which Toronto depends is the most vulnerable to blackouts of the type experienced on Monday of any major financial centre in North America. Toronto’s special weakness is its lack of local transmission system redundancy.

The transmission system serving downtown Toronto is operated at its limit, with no capacity to spare. As a direct result, maintenance schedules are squeezed or eliminated, a factor that may well have played a role in initiating the event. The ability of grid operators to transfer load from one transmission path to another in the event of failures is severely limited, a factor that directly determined the scale and duration of the blackout. The large number of customers blacked out and the duration of blackout was a function of the system’s flawed design.

Environmentalists, including the Ontario Clean Air Alliance, the David Suzuki Foundation, World Wildlife Foundation Canada, Peter Tabuns of the Ontario NDP and Toronto Councillor Paula Fletcher, have played leading roles in blocking the development of another transmission line into the city’s core.

Many environmental organizations, working with the Ontario government’s Trillium Foundation (which distributes the government’s gambling profits), the Ontario Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure and others formed an umbrella group in 2007 called Transforming Toronto. The new group was developed specifically to oppose a new high-voltage transmission line into Toronto. In Ontario’s highly politicized electricity policy environment, affected electric utilities and agencies have not challenged Transforming Toronto’s fluffy assertions that transmission reinforcement is not needed.

For example, the Ontario Clean Air Alliance dimly claimed in a recent press release that natural gas-fired co-generation or combined heat and power development in the city would eliminate the need for another transmission line into the city. OCAA ignores the grid incompatibility problem between intermittent wind power, which OCAA also advocates, and cogeneration power plants, whose output is normally not suited for continuous grid control. As Denmark’s power system proves, piling co-generation on top of wind power exacerbates excess power supply problems.

Ontario ratepayers are already being punished by excess supplies of intermittent and non-controllable power generation. 

OCAA’s cogeneration opinions also ignore the tendency for urban co-generation facilities to be used least during peak demand periods in summer, providing the least transmission relief when we need it most. 

As dimly, many environmental organizations have been claiming that wind power developed offshore from Toronto would help eliminate the need for real transmission reinforcement. Ontario’s actual wind power experience proves that wind power is least reliable during summer peak demand periods.

On the basis of their theories, these environmentalists have launched a sophisticated, provincial government-backed lobbying campaign to restrict any transmission developments within Toronto to projects that would allow local generation developments to connect with the grid, but to the exclusion of efforts to build the relief line that could have limited or even eliminated Monday’s blackout.

As far back as 2007, then Energy Minister Dwight Duncan took the environmentalists’ bait hook, line and sinker, opposing a relief transmission line as an option to help secure Toronto’s electricity supply. 

Environmentalists have also diverted conservation efforts away from addressing peak demand, pushing instead conservation targets that focus on energy savings throughout the year. The Ontario government’s conservation targets have been strongly influenced by this thinking.

The consequence of these political machinations is that, except for a few projects, almost all of the transmission developments underway in Ontario are being guided by political directives and are designed to serve generators, primarily wind and solar, much of which is slated for development in remote areas. From a ratepayer perspective, the best we can hope for in the current policy environment is that the most remote transmission projects and the projects that connect the largest amounts of super-costly solar power move ahead very slowly.

But that doesn’t keep the lights on in Toronto.

Tom Adams is a Toronto-based energy consultant

14 thoughts on “Careless environmental ideology was a root cause of the blackout

  1. Religion versus Science is now
    Environmentalism vs. Science!

    The “transmission plan got shelved, replaced by government directives to support more wind and solar generators.”

    The misuse of science as a tool of propaganda is now a problem for everyone, worldwide!

    The Climategate scandal exposed an international alliance that used science as a tool of propaganda to deceive the public.

    The alliance includes scientists in other countries, the US NAS and the federal research agencies that NAS controls through budget review, the UN’s IPCC, the Norwegian Nobel Prize Committee, Al Gore, world leaders, the Alliance of Academies of Science worldwide, the news media and the most prestigious science journals.

    Here are some experimental facts that have been hidden from the public:

    A. Many federal research agencies in the USA promoted misinformation on the Sun’s role in controlling Earth’s climate [1],

    B. NASA manipulated or hid experimental data from:

    -a.) The 1969 Apollo Mission showing that Iron (Fe) is the Sun’s most abundant element [2],

    -b.) The 1995 Galileo Mission to Jupiter confirming mass fractionation in the Sun [3], and

    C. The US Department of Energy (DOE) ignored precise nuclear rest mass data showing that neutron repulsion is the nuclear energy source that quantitatively explains the Sun’s outflow of energy, neutrinos, and solar-wind Hydrogen in exactly the proportions observed [1,2].

    1. “Earth’s heat source – the Sun”, Energy & Environment 20 (2009) 133-141.

    2. “The Sun is a plasma diffuser that sorts atoms by mass”, Physics of Atomic Nuclei 69 (2006) 1847-1856.

    3. “Isotopic ratios in Jupiter confirm intra-solar diffusion”, Meteoritics & Planetary Science 33 (1998) A97, paper 5011.

    With kind regards,
    Oliver K. Manuel
    Former NASA Principal
    Investigator for Apollo

  2. Mr. Oliver K. Manuel, we are all peeling back the layers of this onion, and though the smell is overwhelming, we will continue until we reach the core.

  3. Thanks, Lynne!

    I wish you and all the rest of us well in this effort.

    Since the time of the 1969 Apollo Mission to the Moon, science has steadily deteriorated away as politicians learned that scientists could be trained with research grants and awards the same way Pavlov trained dogs with dog biscuits.

    Leaders of the scientific community ignored both the goal and the warning in President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s farewell address to the nation on 17 January 1961:

    “The prospect of domination of the nation’s scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present — and is gravely to be regarded.”

    “Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite.”

    “It is the task of statesmanship to mold, to balance, and to integrate these and other forces, new and old, within the principles of our democratic system — ever aiming toward the supreme goals of our FREE SOCIETY.” [Caps added to emphasize the goal.]

    George Orwell’s book, “1984”, illustrates our fate if we fail.

    With kind regards,
    Oliver K. Manuel
    Former NASA Principal
    Investigator for Apollo

  4. We made page 1 of the Creemore Echo. Things are heating up. What a wonderful day! I do wish I new how to make those little happy faces that David is so good at.

  5. Melodie:

    Just cleaning up my notebokk to get ready, but happy to oblige.

    colon : dash – Right bracket ) (Three charatcers one-after-the other )then 🙂

    use a semi-colon ; for a wink then dash – then right bracket ) .

    of course a left bracket for the mouth should give a sad face.


    and o for mouth ??? 😮


    stay well!

  6. Thanks for all the chuckles, I’m laughing for the first time in many months. I awoke to Randy’s coining of the endearment ‘Feckless Idiot’ now I’m being sent darling little happy faces by a very thoughtful WillR. But here’s the really funny part. “But Willr, how did they get to be yellow?” I take it if you click bold, then click the colour yellow, somehow this all works.
    Gee maybe I should be PREMIER. If I figure out how to turn the little faces around right side up that would mean I qualify……he he he .

  7. I want all the Boomers to stand up, demand numbers and scientific research for these “business” plans such as Industrial Wind Turbines, and ask that charities account for every dollar spent. Their generation should know a B.S artist when they see one.
    Mr. Oliver K. Manuel, the next generation needs to hear more from scientists such as yourself. We need to be shown that science can be a noble enterprise, not rented out to the next government or salesman.
    Mr. Tom Adams, I watched you last night on TVO. Thank you for giving a reality check as delicately as possible.
    José Etcheverry is totally a Wind Turbine salesman . He represents Dr. Suzuki in the Advisory Committee of Hon. Dwight Duncan, Ontario’s Minister of Energy. Thick as thieves.
    Then he made some sort of reference to Jatin Nathwani, saying he installed a water heater, made in Jatins’ “country”. Jatin Nathwani is the Ontario Research Chair in Public Policy and Sustainable Energy Management at University of Waterloo.
    There is a reason why banks won’t finance the green energy initiatives without equity of some sort. The New Green Economy is a sham.

  8. A great article, and thank you for the thought David.

    Melodie Burkett, am I correct that the proposed WPD turbines are within 5km from Stayner, and only a little outside of that from Creemore?

  9. A report to understand how people react to the language of conservation in the States provides an interesting outcome. Water quality and supply was ranked of high importance were as climate change did not register a response. It sort of shows that the media message is wearing thin and maybe most people never worried much about climate warming.
    Industrial wind turbines put water quality at risk. There is little that can be done to protect water from oil and other fluids contained in wind turbines when accidents, failing towers or operational spills happen. Almost no safe guards are in place or are planned to be in place in the construction, maintenance and operation. Spills are not normally contained when in water. Solution to pollution is dilution. Putting industrial wind turbines 5 km from shore puts them out of sight and harder to monitor for spills. Water currents and wind currents will have no problem spreading contaminants further and some contaminants are not as visual as an oil slick.

    Surface water and wells close to industrial wind tubines should be tested.

    View the language of conservation report that indicates the importance of water to people at:

  10. Thank you Tom Adams. I hope you get a job with the new government in 2011.

    At the Samsung meeting here in Cayuga, I suggested to a rep that instead of Toronto investing in wind turbines they should be concentrating on their infrastructure. He said he didn’t want to go there.

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