Lessons from the Sault
Amid all the dire warnings that we are not doing enough to avert climate catastrophe, it’s heartening to come across the story of a community, like Sault Ste. Marie, Ont.
They claim they are the alternative energy capital of North America and it is hard to argue with them. They generate 1.6 times their electrical needs through renewable energy production: 70 per cent hydro, 24 per cent wind, four per cent solar and two per cent other. The hydro production comes from five generating plants on the St. Marys River. The wind off the lake is used by the Prince Wind Farm to generate enough power to serve 64,000 homes. The Batchewana community partnered with Calgary’s BluEarth Renewables Inc. to generate another 58 megawatts of energy. Starwood Energy Group has a solar farm that is the second largest in North America. What about that two per centother? Essau Steel Algoma uses the gases created by its steel-making to produce enough electricity to reduce the company’s reliance on the grid by 50 per cent.
What do they do with that surplus power? They sell it to other communities and they’re developing storage for it. They began by building a 7 megawatt lithium-ion battery facility, the first of its kind in Canada. It became operational in 2017. This seems to have worked well because their public utilities commission has partnered with the Sault Area Hospital to build a battery facility for it. The batteries are charged at night when demand and rates are low, then used during the day when demand and rates are high. It also helps to have an increased security of supply. Their current project is to upgrade to a smart grid, another first in Canada. It more efficiently handles decentralized power supplies and more effectively handles grid disruptions. Also to be built is yet another battery facility, which will be the largest of its kind in Canada.
What does all of this give Sault Ste Marie? The lowest electricity rates in northern Ontario. The hospital will save $3 million over 10 years. With its cheap energy it is diversifying its economy. One example is Heliene, which manufactures solar panels and is expanding into Minnesota.
Sault Ste Marie shows what can be achieved when a community looks into the future and sees opportunity.
Robert J. MacMillan
We need to learn
Tim Dolighan hit the nail on the head with his Oct. 8 cartoon: Wait, I feel like this might be another one of those moments WE can ALL learn from.
We aren’t learning folks.
Basically, Justin Trudeau and his team have successfully contrived yet another red herring to get daily “sorry” coverage for more than a week.
These are planned “gaffs,” which sound the same as gaffes but have a different meaning. With his gaffs (barbed spears for hunting and fishing), Trudeau and his handlers wait and watch for their prey, the citizens. The opposition parties and media fall for it every time, spending energy, days and weeks covering Trudeau’s apparent gaffe.
We need to learn to shift the narrative to governing the country. We get consistently sidetracked at our peril.
So, watch for the next “gaffe” that generates media for a week and look behind it to actual target of Trudeau’s “gaff.”