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The Beach Triangle Residents Association, Toronto, Ontario

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Off Shore Wind Generation Proposal: Present Situation

By David Windrim

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By now you will already know that the Ontario Power Authority (OPA) is seeking new sources of electricity. The Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) is encouraging the development of renewable energy generation from wind and water sources through the leasing of provincial crown land. Under that process, Toronto Hydro is investigating the feasibility of a wind farm offshore in Lake Ontario, and has secured access to a series of lake-bed grid cells approximately 25 kilometers in length, approximately 2 to 4 kms off shore southeast of the Scarborough Bluffs.

The first step in siting a wind farm is research to confirm whether the wind resource is sufficient to support a business case to construct and operate the turbines. In order to do that it will be necessary to erect an anemometer and leave it in place in the lake for two years to confirm the wind resource.

The anemometer is an apparatus to measure wind speed and direction using light imaging radar. It is a stand-alone structure with no moving parts, attached to the lake bottom but would be removable after it has served its purpose. The specific location has been determined following a non-intrusive geotechnical study of the lake bottom area, and will have minimal disruption to the lake bottom. It will have a structural steel platform located in approximately 12 meters of water, extending approximately 4 m above lake water level with a width of approximately 5 m. The platform will contain the anemometer instrument, auxiliary power system, and communication and navigation beacons. . This results in a compact structure that is difficult to see from shore.

Currently, Toronto Hydro is speaking to community and other stakeholders about the anemometer platform. Engineering, platform fabrication and permit applications have been completed. Construction was scheduled for June, 2009, following approval of all necessary permits, but has yet to be completed due to a slight change in its location.

It is too early to determine whether the location agreed to by the MNR has sufficient wind energy to develop a wind farm. Once the wind resource is confirmed, Toronto Hydro will review all of the collected data including many economic and environmental factors. If the decision is to proceed with construction of a wind farm, a full environmental assessment will be required.

As reported in the Toronto Star, April 20, 2010, "Toronto council committee sidelines motion opposing turbines in the lake off Scarborough Bluffs". The Globe and Mail reported on April 10 that "If the project is deemed feasible and meets whatever provincial rules are put in place, it will likely go forward".

Additional information is available at Toronto Hydro Energy: Offshore Wind