York generates winds of change


Toronto has a new wind turbine that might become as much of an attraction as the CN Tower, at least for environmentalists. The 30-storey, 750-kilowatt wind turbine erected in mid-December on the Canadian National Exhibition grounds got off the ground in part due to York Faculty of Environmental Studies alumni, students and a faculty member. And there are plans for another turbine to go up at Ashbridges Bay, a few kilometres east along the shore – also with the involvement of York people.

When both turbines are in full operation by spring 2003 (the most recent one will be operating by the end of January), the 29-metre-long blades will generate enough power for about 250 average homes. The hope is that eventually these turbines will be part of a large wind farm that will produce electricity for “green” energy cooperatives in Ontario communities.

The turbines are jointly owned by Toronto Hydro Energy Services and a group called the Toronto Renewable Energy Co-operative (TREC) which, together, make up a wind power cooperative called WindShare.

TREC’s roots stem back over five years ago when York graduates Bryan Young (MES ‘99) and Deb Doncaster (MES ‘99) worked with the North Toronto Green Community citizens group and initiated Canada’s only cooperative renewable-energy project.

Currently, Young (pictured left) is executive director of TREC. Doncaster and MES candidate Ben Stevenson (BES ‘01) staff the organization with a volunteer board of directors that includes FES associate dean, Prof. Rob McDonald.

McDonald says renewable energy cooperatives, such as TREC, provide a community-based, safe and environmentally-friendly alternative-energy source. However, “coal burning power plants in Ontario cause air quality-related health problems, while nuclear powers plants are enormously costly, create long-lived radioactive wastes and raise concerns about safety.”

TREC’s approach to promoting clean, renewable energy has sparked off other similar organizations in Ontario. For more background details on the project, visit the following Web site: http://www.yorku.ca/fes/fesnews/wind.htm.