The vast majority of Ontario’s hospitals cannot operate at full capacity during a blackout for two reasons. First, the capacity of their emergency diesel generators is significantly lower than their peak electricity demand. Second, in the event of a prolonged blackout they may not be able to obtain a continuous supply of diesel fuel.
However, a handful of Ontario hospitals have installed natural gas-fired combined heat and power (CHP) plants that allow them to continue to operate at full capacity in the event of a blackout (for a list of hospitals that have CHP plants, see http://www.healthpower.ca/facilities.php ). By using natural gas more efficiently to produce both heat and electricity, these hospitals are also lowering their environmental impact.
Numerous Ontario hospitals would like to install CHP systems, but we need a system to pay them for the electricity they produce similar to the program now in place for renewable energy sources. Paying Ontario’s hospitals to produce electricity will benefit all Ontario electricity consumers since small-scale CHP plants can meet our electricity needs at a lower cost than new nuclear reactors.