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When Ontarians conserve power, wind farms will be first to shut down

Despite its recent investment in wind energy, Ontario will periodically ask wind operators to turn off their turbines, leaving gas and nuclear operating, This Magazine has learned.

Conservation efforts and more energy production have led to an occasional surplus of electricity in the province, requiring Ontario to power down some generators at certain times of the year. According to a source within Ontario's non-renewable generating sector, wind generators will be the first to be shut down during surplus periods due to contracts that favour older natural gas plants. Ontario will soon have 1,200 Megawatts of wind power installed, and significant portions of it would periodically go unused under the scheme.

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Columnists

Driving extinction: The case against biofuel subsidies

Photo: futureatlas.com/flickr

The dinosaur- and tree-fern-filled swamps of the Carboniferous period, which lasted from about 360 to 300 million years ago, bequeathed us the massive oil and gas deposits that fuel modern industrial society. 

A major oil company once ran a clever cartoon ad showing a dinosaur transforming into black gooey oil, which was sucked out of the ground and pumped into a car.

With a growing shortage of partly decayed Carboniferous dinosaurs and tree ferns, we are now devoting ever-increasing percentages of our current landscapes to automobile fuel production. Picture this: woodlots, hedgerows, birds and butterflies replaced by endless fields of corn, which is harvested, refined to ethanol, and mixed with the gasoline provided by your local filling station.

B.C. Hydro's Integrated Resource Plan and the case against Site C

| August 28, 2013
Columnists

Why can't we talk about energy conservation in Nova Scotia?

Photo: Green Energy Futures/flickr

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Efficiency Nova Scotia, the conservation agency funded by your power bill, is reporting good progress as the public buys into the notion of saving both energy and money.

The province-wide electricity load has been cut by 4.3 per cent so far -- enough energy saved last year alone to power 16,000 homes -- and an "energy-efficiency industry" of small businesses is growing to service all this.

Excellent. Now what's keeping us from going all the way and actually adopting those forms of energy that conserve by definition?

Columnists

Why Canada needs more community power

Given the scientific consensus that wind turbines are not dangerous to human health, as opponents have claimed, it is time to shift focus to a real issue: fixing wind energy policy to increase community power in Canada.

Next steps for B.C.'s carbon tax in 2013

| January 15, 2013

Why I am excited for PowerShift

Brigette handing out Tar Sands at the 2011 UN climate conference.

About a year ago, I held up a sign to Stop Harper. I first got this idea when the Conservatives rejected the climate change bill. I felt helpless because the Conservative government was showing no intent to confront climate change - threatening the very survival of humanity.

While working as a page in the Senate, I felt alone, afraid, and hopeless in the face of a Harper agenda set on attacking people and the environment that sustains us. I witnessed Harper withdrawing funding from social services we value, and handing that money over to rich oil and gas companies. I saw the rejection of the Kyoto Protocol and the expansion of the tar sands. 

What I did not see was an investment in a green and just future for all of us.

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Columnists

Proposed Muskrat Falls project renews much-needed energy debate

Muskrat Falls. Photo: innovationtrail/Flickr

The proposed $6-billion-plus Muskrat Falls project in Labrador, so casually assumed to be the cornerstone of our electricity solution by the governments of Nova Scotia and Newfoundland, is raising tons of skepticism in both places, and rightly so.

My guess is that it won't go ahead -- at least not now -- mainly for Newfoundland reasons, as more and more people are gagging at the big numbers and shaky logic. Hopefully, however, the debate over it will force us to face the realities of our energy situation and to move ahead on another path.

Columnists

Nova Scotia natural gas a policy failure

Natural gas pipes. Photo: Steve Harwood/Flickr

Remember natural gas? It was going to take us to the Promised Land. For 30 years after its discovery near Sable Island, a half-dozen premiers drooled at the thought of cutting the ribbon when the pipeline made landfall. A law for the "orderly development" of a gas system was passed in 1997 and grand speeches were made.

By the time it came in 2000, it was so tarnished by our muddled politics that then-premier John Hamm never even showed up for the ribbon-cutting.

Alternatives Podcast

Issue 38.4: Ecotourism

August 21, 2012
| Alternatives Podcast Issue 38.4 on ecotourism -- with Emily Slofstra, Daryn Caister, Joe Pavelka and Dan Kellar.
Length: 40:18 minutes (36.91 MB)
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