Ottawa Burns Gas To Power Electric Buses

 

Long-time Bulldog reader and community activist John Langstone says important questions remain unanswered with gas plants used to power the city’s new fleet of electric buses:

The Bulldog’s breaking stories on gas-fired power generation for electric buses in Ottawa raise vital and perplexing issues.

One is the eight megawatt gas-generating capacity. An Ottawa Citizen article says the vehicles charge at something between 50 and 100 kilowatts per vehicle for between four to five hours. A back of the cigarette package calculation says the kilowatt range here basically means theoretically, between 80 to 160 buses could be charged at the same time with the eight-megawatt generating capacity. The city is saying it will have something like 352 buses at the end of 2027.


If the $1 billion were only used to purchase buses (and not generators and other infrastructure), at $1.4 million a pop, we could have a fleet of around 700 electric buses at some point. Council has approved the $1 billion, but do we know what it is really for?

So the interesting issue now is what the generating capacity is intended for. Is it back-up, or is it to make up for inadequate Ottawa Hydro infrastructure to charge the electric bus fleet? OC Transpo might want back-up, but I would also expect this to be part of the business case put to council for decision-making. If it is to make up for inadequate Ottawa Hydro infrastructure on an ongoing basis, it begs the question why this would be an OC Transpo responsibility? Is power generation not an Ottawa Hydro-OPG type of issue?

And if it will regularly used for ongoing power supply, should the net carbon footprint from the electric bus program not be presented publicly?

In the end aren’t we paying $1 billion for environmental benefits? If we are generating gas-fired electricity as a part of the electric bus program, this is a key piece of data for decision-making.

If we are looking at gas-fired generating plants to provide adequate power generation, remember 10 years ago where the placement and subsequent cancellation of gas-fired generation got the Liberal government into political trouble. To me it begs the question if this is all being done on the quiet as an attempt to minimize focus on the Conservative government in Ontario being tied to gas generation now. Will Ottawa object to gas-fired generation that Oakville and Mississauga did in the past?


Going over this led me to think of other issues relating to converting buses and cars to electricity. In terms of back-up, what if the grid were to go down? If generating capacity is not decentralized with multiple sources and perhaps generating and storage alternatives, could we not become vulnerable as a society to a few key components in the system being down. If we don’t have cars, trucks or buses available in an electric era, perhaps active transportation will come into its own.

Has everyone got their back up bicycle?

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2 Responses

  1. Bruce says:

    Best not be an electric bike!

  2. The Voter says:

    Shank’s pony may become the primary mode of transportation year-round for those without a vehicle who are physically capable of it.

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