Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Bala Falls Hydro Project - a 3rd guest post Part 21

May 30, 2010

Hydro project presents great opportunities for Bala

(Editor’s note: this letter was addressed to Muskoka Lakes Mayor Karen Ellis. Copied with permission.)

Dear Ms. Ellis:
I am writing to strongly endorse the proposed hydroelectric project for the Bala Falls.
Our family cottage is on the bay on the Moon River and faces the falls. When I first started going to Bala as a child, there was a power station there. The building, which was quite an attractive structure, was there until 1972. I’m not really sure why anyone would be opposed to putting a power station back where one previously stood. 

What wasn’t there when I started going to the cottage was a massive in-filled Highway 169, with the causeway over the falls. Previously anyone going through Bala had to drive through town, past The Kee, and under the one-lane train bridge. Can you imagine traffic today if the causeway hadn’t been built?

Mar. 6, 2010
It’s called progress. It’s progress like this causeway that allows so many of the people who are opposed to the power station to get to Muskoka in their car. The rock that filled the causeway was all blasted out from the area. Have you seen the rock cuts as you drive through Bala? Can you imagine the noise of that blasting in those days? And yet people saw it as progress.

For some reason though, Ontario is experiencing extreme NIMBYism when it comes to green energy.
I could see opposition to wind turbines going up in Bala, or a solar farm, but a hydro station? It’s just using water that’s wasted spilling down the falls no one pays any attention to. The falls where people are always getting swept away in the current. It’s clean, green renewable energy that’s simply being wasted.

The falls that people play in will stay the same. The power station landscaping will actually give better access for people to enjoy the falls. And it’s going in a place where there was a power station before.
In the meantime, the water power that’s now wasted could power 4,000 homes. Or cottages. The cottages of people who drive cars and SUVs from Toronto, vehicles that burn oil and contribute greenhouse gases to our rapidly warming climate. This has been the hottest year ever recorded in human history.

The problem is real and all of us who drive our cars to Muskoka are doing our best to contribute to the problem. This is one opportunity for us do the right thing for the planet.

I’m confused by some of the reasons for people’s opposition. One is “the noise of construction, including blasting.” You can’t talk to someone in the chair beside you on the beach when a train goes by at our cottage. Blasting would be much less intrusive. 

Trucks roar down Highway 169 and motorcycles roar up Highway 38 behind our cottage. There simply is no reason to slow this project because of noise.
And traffic? There are too many cars on that road already. If some people take another route, all the better.

I guess what frustrates me most about the delays to this project is the huge opportunity that Bala is missing to be a renewable energy leader. Bala could become energy independent and unlike wind power which is intermittent, you can count on water power 24 hours a day.

And what if Bala pursued isolation from the grid, also called “islanding.” Other towns with hydroelectric power, like Almonte in eastern Ontario, sat in the dark for days during the 1998 ice storm because they were connected to the grid and when the grid was down, they were down. The water was flowing but no power was generated.

Can you imagine if Bala lobbied Hydro One to install remote circuit breakers that allowed Bala to isolate itself from the grid when there were power outages? Can you imagine a prolonged ice storm where others in Muskoka had no electricity to pump water or run furnace fans or keep fridges and TVs on, but residents of Bala were unaffected? 

This is well within the power of this community, but it has to stop the hysterical, knee-jerk opposition and embrace the amazing potential this project presents.

I heartily endorse this project and it’s time to stop this nonsensical opposition and form a group to pursue how to allow Bala to “island” itself during widespread power outages. Property values will rise significantly when people learn about Bala’s cutting energy independence!

What are you waiting for? Get the shovels in the ground and get the circuit breakers in the works!
Cam Mather
Tamworth, ON


Cloudia said...

Warm Aloha from Waikiki

Comfort Spiral

This Is My Blog - fishing guy said...

Jill: Neat photos of a great river area.

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