E-Bus Generators: A Non-Denial Denial

 

Let’s take a close look at what the City of Ottawa said in its response to The Bulldog’s story that the city will use fossil fuel generators for its planned e-buses project powerful enough to fulfil the needs of all the homes in a city the size of Brockville:

“As outlined in our Zero Emission Bus Program Update report (attached), two 4MW generators have been procured to provide backup power to support the charging infrastructure. The City of Ottawa is working with Hydro Ottawa to expand the necessary infrastructure to meet the future load demands of the St. Laurent garage. Further information on the Zero Emission Bus Program and other contingency measures will be shared at the March 18 Transit Commission meeting.”

–          Attributed to Daniel Villeneuve, Program Manager, Capital Projects

The Bulldog read the report. Here is the extent of the information on the generators from the report attached which this publication had already seen:

“Generators – Two 4MW generators have been procured to provide backup
power to support the charging infrastructure. They are expected to arrive
onsite in Q1 2025.”


Two sentences to illustrate a large part of the $180-million charging deal that was sole-sourced and which the city auditor general had significant qualms with.

Nevertheless, that tells Ottawans that two giant generators have been purchased. We already knew that.

It also tells us (which is new information) that the City of Ottawa is negotiating with Hydro Ottawa to expand the electricity needs of charging at its St. Laurent station. In other words, the two sides, both owned by the City of Ottawa are trying to find a solution.

So that tells us that Hydro Ottawa, at present, doesn’t have the capacity to handle charging OC Transpo’s fleet of buses.

That said, there’s no indication of a solution to this situation. You can plan for all kinds of things but until a deal is struck (or in the LRT example, even when a deal is struck), you can’t be sure the outcome you want will occur.

As an example, I’m planning to have a love scene with Margot Robbie in her next movie. I have plans but there’s no guarantee that a final deal can be negotiated or that the scene might be written out of the script. That said, I have plans. It might be Robbie has other plans. We’re negotiating.

More information will come at the March 18 transit commission meeting. Well what’s wrong with telling The Bulldog now? That looks very much like the city is using that as an out to blow this publication off. And the statement above is a non-denial denial. In other words, the city is not questioning the vericity of The Bulldog story.

Notice that neither the two sentences of information in the report nor the three sentences in the response to The Bulldog mention the type of fuel to be used or why a backup system needs to be so overwhelmingly large to serve this product. My TV remote requires two AAA batteries. In case those batteries run out of power, I have a few AAA batteries as backups. I don’t have the PIckering Nuclear Station on the roof to back up my TV remote.

As for type of fuel, The Bulldog said it was natural gas because that would appear to be the logical alternative. It is cleaner than diesel, readily available and one of the best alternatives short of electricity. Only a fool would use dirty diesel to power green buses. So why is the city so reluctant to say what kind of fuel is being used for the generators? Are they embarrassed to reveal their choice?

Meanwhile, the term back-up power is a vague form of speech. I could have those two AAA batteries to back up the bus fleet and a system that can power Brockville to back it up. My three AAAs will die in a few seconds, but that’s one great big backup system to pick up the slack when the No. 1 option fails as it will. You can call a lot of things backups. In fact, you can call a lot of things different things, some of which might be true while others might not.

So were your agent a doubting person, piecing together all this information, one would say that the city will be powering bus backup with generators as the primary source (given the outrageously large capacity of the two generators), that they don’t have a deal in place between the city and Hydro Ottawa about supplying clean energy and that Hydro Ottawa might not have enough capacity to run that amount of massive charging. Your agent hears that Hydro Ottawa is hard-pressed to get capacity to serve all the new developments in the city let alone add on a city the size of Brockville to the grid.

Thus the generators that will burn fossil fuel to power what was supposed to be a green project. And those generators look as though they might run for a long time. Furthermore, all this makes a mockery of what was supposed to be a climate-friendly e-bus initiative. As well, experience of other cities shows that cold weather is a severe threat to battery capacity and therefore the reliability of their e-bus systems.

OC Transpo says testing of the vehicles is going along swimmingly. But then given the city’s long and not illustrious history of lying, incompetence and withholding information with LRT gives pause to what city staff and politicians say.

Most of those people who were part of those nasty practices are still at Ottawa City Hall.

This project has all the earmarks of the distrastrous failure of light rail.

Light Rail 2: The Sequel.

Ken Gray

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8 Responses

  1. Ron Benn says:

    I word to the wise, Ken. The Emperor never likes to be told he has no clothes. Especially when it is true. Rather he wants to be told that his attire is leading edge, avant garde and tres tres chic. Fortunately, there are plenty of sycophants who are telling the Emperor how much they admire his fashion sense.

  2. Ken Gray says:

    Ron:

    That was advice I should have got 50 years ago.

    cheers

    kgray

  3. Nicholas says:

    Technically, this would be Light Rail 3 since light rail II is also a disaster in the making.

    I had a look at the IESO yesterday and noticed that the mix of electricity sources has improved slightly; it used to be heavy nuclear with a smattering of renewables while now it’s about 50/50. All this push for electric vehicles still mystifies me. The environmental damage that’s caused to produce the batteries (which will die in 10 years or so) coupled with the nuclear production don’t make these things the panacea that everyone thinks.

    Does Toronto have a city council that’s in such a rush to waste taxpayers money like ours does? 2-3 billion on LRT1, who knows what on LRT2, and now another billion (and climbing!) on e-buses. Pathetic really.

  4. Ken Gray says:

    Nicholas:

    Thank you.

    I was just thinking that if the electricity is generated by diesel for electric buses, maybe we could just take out the middle man and have diesel buses.

    Is this too logical?

    cheers

    kgray

  5. The Voter says:

    Ken,

    At the very least, they could stick with the current diesel buses until Hydro Ottawa is ready to provide the quantity of electric power that an electric fleet will require.

    On another point, I hope that they are planning to retain the diesel buses until such time as their electric replacements are up and running effectively which would include them making it through an Ottawa winter.

  6. Theresa says:

    Has there been an acknowledgement of the points made by commenter Angela Keller-Herzog regarding the errors and/or omissions in the original Bulldog report re: the power source for the new electric buses? Not having read the original document myself, I rely on the integrity of the people who have done so to report the facts objectively. I had assumed that the original article by Ken Gray was correct; now I have my doubts.

  7. Ken Gray says:

    Teresa:

    The only possible inaccuracy is that type of fuel that will be used. It might be diesel but the city isn’t saying.

    The city in its response did not take issue with the facts other than they are saying it is just a backup system. Yes a backup system that could power Brockville. If you’re looking for inaccuracies and omissions, I suggest you look at the city report.

    cheers

    kgray

  8. Ken Gray says:

    Theresa:

    The usual response of people when they get caught with their pants down is to call the reporting inaccurate. One of the favourite lines was “I was taken out of context.”

    I have quite a number of years of accurate reporting so I would suggest attacking the reporter might not be a good idea. That’s usually the position of scoundrels.

    I’m sure Angela has much more experiment and accomplishment in journalism than yours truly.

    I don’t make this stuff up and it took a fair amount of work to put together a story when the city was, and continues to be, uncooperative.

    cheers

    kgray

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