TORONTO, Dec. 13, 2000 (CNW) — Toronto Hydro Energy Services Inc. (THESI) and Toronto Renewable Energy Co-operative (TREC) today announced that the proposed wind turbines on Toronto’s waterfront have reached a significant environmental milestone with news that the project has received environmental approvals from both Environment Canada and the Ontario Government.

“We’re absolutely delighted to announce that Environment Canada has granted a ‘Final Environmental Assessment Approval’ for the Waterfront Wind Turbine project,” said Bryan Young, General Manager of TREC, the community- based partner in the project. “The federal government’s confidence in this project and its commitment to wind power as a clean and sustainable alternative to fossil fuel-burning energy sources, is, we hope, a fresh sign of environmental leadership – one that our country desperately needs.”

The partners also announced that the Ontario Government has granted a Declaration Order for the project. “We’d like to commend the Ontario Government for its leadership on this ground-breaking wind project,” said Joyce McLean, Manager of Green Energy for Toronto Hydro Energy Services Inc.

“The vast majority of residents in the Riverdale-Beaches and Toronto Island communities approve of this project. So do the Olympic Bid Committee, the Waterfront Regeneration Trust, local MPs and MPPs and Toronto City Council, not to mention many environmental organizations. This is a wonderful news for Toronto and great news for the environment. We are looking forward to breaking ground in early 2001.”

The proposed site for the first of three wind turbines, first announced by the partners in June 1999, is at the former south ash lagoon of the Ashbridges Bay Treatment Plant in east Toronto. It is located more than one kilometer away from any home — an important consideration for residents who, during an extensive consultation process, questioned the degree to which the turbine might increase the level of background noise in their neighbourhood.

“The background sound-level in an average urban residential neighbourhood is significantly higher than that of the wind turbines,” said Ms. McLean. “All residences are located at least 250 meters from all of the proposed locations for the wind turbines and will not likely be heard above background levels.”

During the consultation process, some residents also expressed concerns about bird mortality, but according to Ms. McLean, “we’re concerned about wildlife impacts too, including the effects of continuing carbon dioxide and other air contaminant emissions on birds and other creatures that live in Toronto. The average rate of bird mortality at wind farms in North America is demonstrated to be fewer than two birds per year per turbine. Tall communications towers in Canada are responsible for killing more than 1,000 birds per year, and volunteers routinely sweep up thousands of dead birds from Toronto’s downtown business district every year. Research shows that low buildings, houses, even household cats, kill more birds than wind turbines.”

It is estimated that each of the three Toronto Hydro Energy Services/TREC wind turbines will displace up to 1,400 tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2), 8,400 kilograms of sulphur dioxide (SO2) and 5,600 kilograms of nitrous oxide (NOX) – – the main ingredients in acid rain, smog and ground-level ozone. Each turbine will provide 1,400 megawatt hours per turbine of energy — enough to power 250 households per year.

Toronto Renewable Energy Co-operative was founded in 1997 by members of the North Toronto Green Community, a neighbourhood-based environmental group. The co-operative was launched with $80,000 in grants from the Toronto Atmospheric Fund, a statutory agency of the City of Toronto whose mandate is to fund projects which will help Toronto meet its commitment to lower CO2 emissions. TREC has also received assistance from the Toronto Community Foundation, the Schad Foundation, the Canada Trust Friends of the Environment Foundation and the Lever-Pond’s Charitable Foundation.

Toronto Hydro Energy Services Inc. is a leading energy services provider in Ontario. The company’s goal is to provide customers with energy efficient options by developing environmentally responsible Citisource energy efficient solutions, products and services, and to wholesale electricity and natural gas to Ontario’s homes and businesses.