Metrolinx has packed up its 31-metre-tall wind turbine at the Lisgar GO Station after it produced 91 per cent less electricity than projected.
The provincial transportation agency has officially dumped a pilot project aimed at creating renewable energy using a $620,000 wind turbine. Unveiled in 2009, the turbine was slated to produce enough energy to power 80 per cent of the Lisgar GO station’s electricity per year – 98,550 kilowatt hours (kWh). It fell far short of its targets, producing less than ten per cent of that.
“These things are sometimes difficult to predict. It was based on educated estimates and, as it turns out, they were lower than anticipated,” said Metrolinx media relations manager Anne Marie Aikins.
Metrolinx staff began taking down the structure in July, finishing sometime in August. Aikins said it has since been sold.
Ward 9 councillor Pat Saito admits she had no idea it was removed – it was brought to her attention by a resident inquiring about its whereabouts.
Aikins told The Mississauga News possible reasons the turbine didn’t perform as anticipated include a change in wind patterns, due partially to new developments in the area, including a Wal Mart, Real Canadian Superstore, Home Depot and The Keg Steakhouse and Bar.
“When developments are approved and built, patterns of wind can change,” said Aikins.
But according to Ontario Sustainable Energy Association (OSEA) executive director Nicole Risse, development should have been accounted for in the planning stages.
“When you’re thinking about constructing something like this (wind turbine), you consider what’s going to happen in the future. Of course, there are unforeseen circumstances, but you do as much forecasting as you can,” said Risse.
The consultants responsible for designing the turbine, Genivar Ontario, was paid $138,000 by Metrolinx to find the ideal location for the turbine, conduct a feasibility study and oversee its construction. Less than three years later, the company was embroiled in a judicial inquiry into corrupt practices in Quebec’s construction industry, and accusations of exchanging political party donations for city contracts.
Aikins said Genivar was “fully qualified” and were given the job after a competitive request for proposal process.
Isabelle Adjahi, a spokeswoman for the company, said staffers responsible for preparing the Lisgar file were no longer employed with the company, which is now operating under a new name, WSP Global Inc.
“They’re just a few bad apples,” Risse said of the Genivar staff.
“It doesn’t necessarily reflect the whole industry.”
Despite the setback, Aikins said Metrolinx has been firm on its commitment to an energy management program, installing solar panels on new buildings, using energy-efficient lighting, implementing temperature controls and collecting and monitoring data on a consistent basis.
“We make sure that every program we’re operating is managing its energy performance well.”
Despite the financial loss, Aikins said it was “certainly not a waste of time. We learned a lot. We committed to doing it. It didn’t prove successful, but we’re still incorporating the lessons we learned into projects we do. That’s what pilots are for.”
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