Toronto Hydro prepares for jump in new building connections to local electrical grid
TORONTO, April 2, 2012 /CNW/ - It's hard to find a piece of blue sky without a building or crane obstructing the view, yet many fail to consider the impact to Toronto's electricity grid. Today, Toronto has more skyscrapers and high-rise buildings under construction than any North American cityi. Electrical connection requests for these buildings to Toronto Hydro-Electric System ("Toronto Hydro") have increased by approximately 58 per cent from 2009 levels, and by approximately 127 per cent from 2003. Initial results from the 2011 census show that some pockets of downtown Toronto have seen unprecedented population growth, confirming that the city is going vertical.
In fact, Toronto has close to 200 new buildings or projects expected in 2012. New York is second to Toronto with 96 sky-scrapers currently underway or plannedii. Toronto's downtown core is seeing increased commercial growth through new hotel developments like the Trump Tower, and hospital expansions like CAMH and Sick Kids. The Sick Kids project not only requires designated electrical cables (previously, one cable could service two to three commercial customers), but will also add over 12 megawatts (MW) of new demand when it comes fully on-line this year. To put this into context, the city of Kenora's average demand is 18MWiii. In 2011, Toronto Hydro's new additional load was estimated at 100MW and the utility expects the same for 2012.
The challenge is to connect these buildings to the local grid and supply the electrical demand on time, per customers' schedules. In many areas in Toronto, existing cables and underground equipment are already 50-70 years old. Comparing this scenario to a home, it would be like adding a brand new kitchen with modern appliances to a 'knob and tube' electrical system. As it stands, approximately 29 per cent of Toronto Hydro's infrastructure is already past its projected life expectancy.
Several of Toronto's downtown power stations built in the 1950's - such as Esplanade and Windsor Stations, serving most of the south west and south central parts of downtown - are already close to full capacity.
To accommodate and connect new projects like the Pan Am Games Athlete's Village, designers and engineers must determine which station will be able to supply this new development and determine the path for electrical cables. In certain cases, new civil infrastructure is required to create alternative paths for cables to reach connection points, as the existing infrastructure consisting of 75-year-old "clay tile ducts" has collapsed in many places under the pressure and stresses of modern roadway traffic. In the case of the Athletes Village, the supply will be provided from Basin Station in the Portlands neighbourhood (approximately 2 kilometres away) since stations that are closer to the Village are unable to handle the new electrical demand.
Work already underway on the Pan Am project has been challenging. In addition to new civil infrastructure, crews will need to take power cables from Basin Station across the waterfront and Lakeshore Avenue, over existing roadway bridges, and North to the site on Cherry Street. In this neighbourhood, cable is frequently submersed under water, with crews pumping cable chambers on a regular basis.
There are plans for more Waterfront beautification and condo developments in the Queen's Quay/East Bayside area, and further condo development across the southern end and east side of the city. The East Bayside revitalization is expected to add more than 60MW of new demand alone. To help alleviate the load on existing stations, provide spare capacity for emergency work or maintenance, and help meet the needs of the ever-changing city, a new station is needed.
Toronto Hydro's proposed Bremner station, located adjacent to the Roundhouse on Bremner Boulevard, is part of the solution. This station is planned to provide service to an important residential, entertainment and tourist area of the city. It would also allow Toronto Hydro to replace obsolete equipment at Windsor Station by providing load relief and an alternate supply to customers during emergencies planned maintenance outages, ultimately helping to improve reliability. It would be a key investment, needed to service both existing and new customers downtown, and would be the first significant new station built in downtown Toronto since the 1950's.
About Toronto Hydro
The principal business of the Corporation and its subsidiaries is the distribution of electricity by Toronto Hydro-Electric System Limited. Toronto Hydro-Electric System owns and operates an electricity distribution system, which delivers electricity to approximately 709,000 customers located in the City of Toronto. It is the largest municipal electricity distribution company in Canada and distributes approximately 18% of the electricity consumed in Ontario.
The information in these materials is based on information currently available to Toronto Hydro Corporation and its affiliates (together hereinafter referred to as "Toronto Hydro"), and is provided for information purposes only. Toronto Hydro does not warrant the accuracy, reliability, completeness or timeliness of the information and undertakes no obligation to revise or update these materials. Toronto Hydro (including its directors, officers, employees, agents and subcontractors) hereby waives any and all liability for damages of whatever kind and nature which may occur or be suffered as a result of the use of these materials or reliance on the information therein.
i Emporis; The Economist - February 4, 2012 page 39
ii The Economist - February 4, 2012 page 39
Image with caption: "Downtown Toronto's growth and development driving significant jump in electrical demand (CNW Group/Toronto Hydro Corporation)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20120402_C2173_PHOTO_EN_11822.jpg
For further information:
Tanya Bruckmueller, Toronto Hydro-Electric System