Will Toronto's Blackout Be an Energy Security Wake-Up Call?

By Jason Allen
Published July 06, 2010

I'm sure this will not be the only post generated by Toronto's blackout, but here are my two cents. It has been noted in the Peak Oil community quite a bit that the coming scarcity of Fossil Fuels is going to cause uncertainty in power generation.

For those who aren't aware, the majority of power in Ontario is produced by burning fossil fuels - so our grid is at the mercy of carbon availability. Much has been made, also, of the aging grid and how much energy in terms of fossil fuels will be required to maintain it moving forward.

To wit:

A very rusted looking - and somewhat awkwardly located - Hydro Tower

And a substation that looks about ready to crumble into rust.

I've been saying for years that if we were to get a day (week!) as hot as today, with the economy running on all cylinders, that brownouts would be inevitable. I expected, however, for them to come from lack of capacity, not from apparent breakdowns in the system. That's the funny thing about black swans, though, isn't it?

In the meantime, here are some lovely suggestions for staying cool without AC. All of this is to say that we are going to have to get used to using less power - not replacing our current power supply with something "more sustainable". While part of me applauds Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty's efforts to wean us off fossil fuels, the obvious question is: If the grid can't handle the sunny day requirements of Ontario now, how is it going to handle thousands of extra cars being plugged into the grid daily?

It's not about replacing, it's about reducing - and moving to a lifestyle that just makes do with less ... an out-of-context problem, maybe, for those who continue to confuse 'standard of living' with quality of life.

Perhaps 250,000 people in the dark on the hottest day of the year (so far) will be a wake up call. Here's hoping.

This blog entry was originally posted on Jason's personal website.

Jason Allen is a chronic hive whacker in the Kirkendall Neighbourhood.

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By jason (registered) | Posted July 06, 2010 at 10:56:56

have LA's nonstop brownouts and blackouts been an energy security wake-up call for the past 15 years?
NO. There's your answer.

Comment edited by jason on 2010-07-06 09:57:17

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