Editor’s note: The following is a submitted open letter to Loyalist Township Council regarding electricity generation projects in the Township. The views and opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of KIngstonist. The full Township staff report to Loyalist Township Council for their meeting taking place Monday, Nov. 27, 2023, is available on the Loyalist Township Civic Web Portal.
Dear Loyalist Township Council,
Council has been asked to issue “blanket municipal support” for new electricity generation projects in our area by the Independent Energy System Operator (IESO).
In their Request for Proposals, the IESO writes that electricity growing demand “may be met through diverse resources such as wind, solar, hydro, biomass, nuclear, natural gas, demand response, conservation, storage or other innovative technologies.”
While renewable energy and conservation are important solutions to the climate crisis, new fossil fuel power plants undermine our collective future.
And though the IESO’s inclusion of Indigenous criteria in their assessment is a promising step, the IESO Request for Proposals does not include carbon emissions or ecological impact in their evaluation rubric.
To reduce greenhouse gas emissions, we need to rapidly expand our renewable generation capacity while transitioning away from fossil fuel generation. Unfortunately, that’s not the trajectory that the IESO is currently taking, and support for this blanket resolution would lead to the expansion of the Kingston CoGen facility on Taylor Kidd Boulevard, a fossil-fuel-burning facility in Loyalist Township.
According to the IESO’s own figures, their new generating capacity has been dominated by gas and oil. They have more than doubled their use of fossil fuels for electrical generation since 2017, measured either by the total electricity produced (in Terawatt-hours) or as a percentage of overall generation:
IESO Electricity Generation
|Gas & Oil
|5.9 TWh 4%
|Wind 9.2 TWh 6%
|0.5 TWh <1%
|15.2 TWh 10.4%
|Wind 13.8 TWh
|0.75 TWh <1%
While wind and solar generation have grown over the last five years, fossil fuel generation is being added at more than twice the rate of renewables.
As the climate emergency worsens, this is simply not acceptable. We just experienced the warmest September ever recorded, by a large margin. Fossil-fuel-based power generation endangers the health of regular people, both through air pollution and the impacts of extreme heat.
At this moment in history, any proposed fossil fuel project should be given deep scrutiny. We don’t believe it is appropriate to give “blanket” support to new fossil fuel burning, or to expand the existing Kingston CoGen plant.
We therefore ask that you either amend the proposed resolution to explicitly exclude fossil fuel generation from the blanket approval or reject the proposed resolution.
The expansion of the Kingston CoGen plant is not necessary, and would actually be harmful to the public:
1) Natural gas is no longer a viable “transitional” energy source. Renewable electricity generation is now cheaper than fossil fuels. If the province wants to use natural gas as a transitional source, it can do so without building new fossil fuel plants.
Analyses by both Royal Bank of Canada and the Ontario Clean Air Alliance show that new natural gas plants are not needed, and that a combination of renewable energy and demand management would be sufficient.
The Kingston CoGen plant was owned and operated by Northland Power until April 2023. Northland sold it as part of an effort to decarbonize and invest in renewable energy. Expanding this plant doesn’t make financial or environmental sense for constituents, and would in fact require significant public subsidies.
2) Expanding natural gas plants is a waste of public money. Federal regulations will require most gas plants in Canada to shut down in 2035, including new capacity. However, the IESO is promising to pay fossil fuel companies for these plants even after they shut down — that would mean giving them over a billion dollars of public funds to do nothing. That would be an enormous misuse of taxpayer money that could be used to benefit our communities and speed the transition to clean energy.
3) Other municipalities have rejected fossil fuel expansion, including Thorold, Toronto, and Kingston. The City of Kingston was approached to pass a similar resolution in October of this year. With support from the community, Kingston City Council chose to amend that resolution, adding the words: “it being understood that the support resolution does not apply to natural gas generated projects and exclusively applies to projects that include solar, electricity storage and biofuels”. Kingston City Council passed that amended resolution on October 17, 2023.
We strongly encourage that you add a fossil fuel exception to this proposed IESO resolution, or to reject the resolution entirely.
Thank you and signed,
Lauren Alward, Co-President, Queen’s Backing Action on the Climate Crisis
Siena Margorian, Co-President, Queen’s Backing Action on the Climate Crisis
Maurice and Margaret Breslow
Brian Burt and Ruth Hayward
Colin Burt and Kari Knowles
Jeannette Filthaut, Sister of Providence
Dr. Vicki Friesen
Chris Gusen, 350 Canada
Joan Jardin, Coordinator, Just Recovery Kingston
Jerri Jerreat, Director, Youth Imagine the Future Festival
Kingston Youth Climate Action
Building Kingston’s Future
Pauline Lally, Sister of Providence
Jude Larkin (Alstom Transport Kingston employee, across the street from the Kingston Generating Station)
Marilyn Murray, Chair, Lennox & Addington Stewardship Council
David Lyon and Sue Lyon
Aric McBay, Climate Lead, PC-JPIC
Abbie Miolée, La Salle Earth Club
Steven Moore, Assistant Professor, Sustainability, Queen’s University.
Nancy Nicol, Seniors for Climate Action Now!
Kathleen O’Hara, No Clearcuts Kingston
Mary Jane Philp
Elaine Power, Professor & Associate Director, School of Kinesiology & Health Studies, Queen’s University
Don and Mary Raddon, Anglican Diocese of Ontario Green Group
Dave and Sheila Roewade
Mary Anne Schoenhardt
Josh Suppan, President, National Farmers Union Local 316
Kyla Tienhaara, Canada Research Chair in Economy and Environment, Associate Professor, School of Environmental Studies and Department of Global Development Studies, Queen’s University
Phyllis Waugh, Seniors for Climate Action Now!
Judith and David Wyatt, SCAN! Kingston
Share your views! Submit a Letter to the Editor or an Op/Ed article to Kingstonist’s Editor-in-Chief Tori Stafford at [email protected].