The Ontario Clean Air Alliance asked the candidates running in the Toronto-Centre by-election two questions.  Here are their responses:

Question 1: Should the Government of Ontario direct Ontario Power Generation to put its dirty coal plants on standby reserve now? That is, only operate them if they are absolutely needed to keep the lights on? (For more information on this issue, click here.)

Glen Murray, Liberal Party: Yes

 As has been demonstrated with the announcement of closing 4 more units last year, I believe Ontario should close the coal facilities as soon as possible, as long as the reliability and safety of the electricity system are maintained. I believe that the health impacts of smog and global warming are paramount to the people of Toronto Centre, and Ontario. This McGuinty Government initiative — the commitment to investing in solar, wind and other renewable power as enhanced by the landmark Green Energy Act — is the largest single climate change initiative in North America.

Pamela Taylor, Progressive Conservative Party: Not indicated

 The only Minister of the crown to order the shut down of a coal plant remains Elizabeth Witmer, the environment Minister of the previous PC government. Our party’s record of advancing the cause of clean air takes a back seat to no one, but we have consistently maintained that any steps taken must be while honouring a commitment to the bedrock principles of Ontario supply which are: sustainability, reliability and affordability. Any government that remains committed to those principles while integrating a strong environmental policy will undoubtedly produce an energy policy that works for everyone.

Cathy Crowe, New Democratic Party: Yes

The Ontario NDP supports putting the big coal plants at Lambton and Nanticoke on “standby reserve” at some point in 2010 on the condition that all issues related to maintaining an adequate supply of electricity and maintaining grid stability can be dealt with.

Stefan Premdas – Green Party of Ontario: Yes

Coal power is in rapid decline in Ontario and should not be used unless absolutely necessary, such as failure of a power facility. The Ontario Clean Air Alliance plan to go coal free has always been supported by the Green Party of Ontario, as it is feasible, cost-effective and the right thing to do for the health and well-being of all Ontarians. The Liberal government should not have delayed the closure of coal plants to 2014. Instead of more coal and expensive nuclear, the Green Party would invest more aggressively in conservation, community power and a smart grid, creating green jobs and improving economic productivity.

 

Question #2: Should Toronto’s hospitals have on-site clean electric power plants which will allow the hospitals to continue to operate at full capacity during a blackout? (For more informaton on this issue, click here.)
 

 Glen Murray, Liberal Party: Yes

Hospitals should have a clean source of power to ensure that the lights and life saving equipment stay on during power outages.  I believe that as Ontarians we should be encouraging the use of more clean sources of electricity, especially in downtown urban environments, where the need is greatest. While it would be ideal to ensure a clean source of power for each hospital, individual circumstances at each Hospital need to be considered, and I would like to consult with our partners in the health sector to explore this matter further. As President of the Canadian Urban Institute (CUI), we have organized the research and annual conference of the Canadian District Energy Association. CUI pioneered and championed the deep lake cooling energy technology that led to the creation of Enwave – arguably Canada’s most successful district energy system in Canada. The Regent Park redevelopment uses a district energy system and this is a good model for our hospitals. I am personally a supporter of Combined Heat and Powerplants (CHP) and believe they should be advanced as an important part of our energy solutions.

 Pamela Taylor, Progressive Conservative Party: Not indicated

The issue of combined heat and power has only gained significant attention in Ontario over the last few years. While it has been an ongoing method of supply power in urban areas in Europe, it is relatively new to Ontario. It would be important to investigate any opportunities that would allow for the establishment of combined heat and power installations to supply hospitals and other institutions provided they can be done on a cost effective basis.

 Cathy Crowe, New Democratic Party: Yes

Everything possible should be done to make Toronto’s hospitals as self-sufficient as possible so that all services can be maintained in the event of a blackout. Two sources of power should be used to as great extent as possible in working towards this objective: 1) deep water cooling from the Enwave project which harnesses cold Lake Ontario water for cooling purposes; and 2) High efficiency combined heat and power plants. While more conventional back-up sources can’t be completely discounted, there is considerable potential in these two environmentally friendly sources of power that remains untapped.

 Stefan Premdas – Green Party of Ontario: Yes

Decaying infrastructure and natural disasters can put a patient’s health on the line when the power goes out. Combined heat and power plants at Toronto hospitals would secure backup power in emergencies while also producing power year-round using existing natural gas used for heat. The Green Party would direct the Ontario Power Authority to pay for combined heat and power plants at hospitals, schools, apartments and commercial/industrial centres, at a cost in line with other sources of electricity.