Alliance rallies public for power paradigm shift

Andre Carvallo travelled from Bradford-West Gwillimbury to protest the Ontario government’s plan to build a gas fired ‘peaker plant’ in his region. The government claims the new plant will supply additional energy at peak times.

“In September, a gas fired power plant was slated to be built five minutes away from where I live,” Carvallo said.

Carvallo joined supporters of the group Paradigm Shift Environmental Alliance demanding that Ontario’s electricity needs remain in public hands. On Wednesday, a group of 15 to 20 demonstrators in front of the Metro Toronto Convention Centre protested outside the 20th annual Canadian Power Conference.

Keynote speakers of the conference included Minister of Energy and Infrastructure, George Smitherman, and Jason Chee-Aloy, a director, from Ontario Power Authority.

There have been town hall meetings in Bradford-West Gwillimbury regarding the potential plant, but for some township residents it’s a case of ‘not in my backyard.’

“The community is against it because there are harmful emissions to the environment that are a byproduct of the ‘peaker plant’ (and) it is not even helping the town. It’s helping York region,” Carvallo said.

According to TransCanada who first informed Bradford-West Gwillimbury of its decision to vie for the Ontario Power Authority’s 400-megawatt gas-fired peaker power plant contract in September, the potential site it is being proposed to service the rapid population growth in York region.

Alliance member Ivona Vujica was there to support the group. She wants changes to the way the current energy system is operated.

“The system is broken and needs fixing,” she said. “Since the system was sold to the multinational private equity-owned corporations like Sithe Global, prices have continued to go. Energy needs to be more affordable for every Ontarian.”

Sithe Global is responsible for implementing multiple large scale power generation projects throughout the world.

“We want energy to be 100 per cent public and 100 per cent renewable,” Vujica said. “Both of these are achievable now that we have the technology.”

According to Vujica, the Canadian Power Conference and Networking Centre conference cost $1,500 for delegates to attend. This makes attendance affordable only to large corporations, she said.

“In other provinces like Quebec and Manitoba the power is still owned by the public,” Vujica said. “Keeping power in the hands of the public has been important since mass production began, and there needs to be a total overhaul of the system to ensure that it is once again public and renewable.”

According to Carvallo, the project has gone to the next step, as he has recently seen surveyors at the potential site.