The sun is shining on Aileen Carroll, but the sun is setting on Ontario’s built heritage


Alma burns, May of 2008

Alma burns, May of 2008

From Bob Foster:
With the release of the “sunshine list” (the $100,000 salary club),it’s appalling to see Minister of Culture Aileen Carroll is making $164,623.53,especially since she has FAILED miserably in her duties as culture minister,and what makes it more shocking is,this minister is also collecting a pension from the federal government,all the while badly neglecting her duties.
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Ethanol’s A Fraud, But Other Renewables Aren’t


Posted by Ian:

According to Jay Yarrow of The Business Insider “The struggles of ethanol aren’t necessarily a harbinger for what’s to come for wind or solar.” Elgin county is home to both an ethanol plant in Aylmer and a wind farm in east Elgin. So we have a vested interest in alternative forms of energy. Here’s Yarrow’s take.

In the Financial Times today there is a story about the struggles of the renewable energy industry. Not surprisingly, the capital-intensive industry is struggling along with the banking industry.

The problem here is that the FT is painting the whole industry with a broad brush.

The struggles of ethanol aren’t necessarily a harbinger for what’s to come for wind or solar. They are radically different technologies, with radically different goals. Ethanol was supposed to be able to replace gasoline, it clearly cannot. (Even if it could, it wouldn’t be a good decision. It’s a poor use of land.)

Solar and wind power aren’t supposed to completely eradicate our use of coal in the short term. Maybe in a century it’ll be possible, but that’s a ways away. The need to use ethanol arose in knee-jerk reaction to the rise in prices at the pump–coupled with xenophobia. Those two factors don’t really contribute to solar and wind run investment. They are more about producing cleaner energy that limits emissions.

For the tech savvy audience, we’ll make this analogy: If LinkedIn goes bankrupt some day, does that mean that Twitter will also fail? They’re both social networks. Of course, they’re under the same tent, but on different sides of the pole.

But, to the over-arching struggles with most renewable energy projects: Yes, it’s true that alternative energy projects–wind, solar, better batteries, etc.–are capital intensive and many will not make it through the downturn. But so what?

Economic meltdown killing recycling


Posted by Ian:

St. Thomas has more than its share of waste management issues since BFI Canada took over the contract from Green Lane Environmental one year ago. Not the least of which is a strict adherance to how much in the way of recyclables are picked up each week in blue boxes and green composters. As a result the city’s diversion rate from landfill is dropping. Is this a forerunner of things to come during tough economic times as documented in The Business Insider?

Jay Yarow|Mar. 12, 2009, 9:21 AM|comment

The global economic meltdown and a shift in commodity prices are killing the market for recycled goods. A ton of copper scrap now sells for $3,000, down from more than $8,000 in 2007, tin now sells for $5 a pound, down from $300. Paper is down 80%, reports the New York Times. The prices of plastic bottles have fallen off a cliff too.

Recycling plants in the United States and China are facing massive losses. SA Recycling in the United States took a $10 million loss. China which imports more trash than anywhere in the world is now accepting less because it doesn’t make as much money from trash now. The result is that fewer items will be recycled, and more municipalities will cut back back on recycling programs once they start losing money on them.

Aboutown Transportation increases service between London and St. Thomas


Posted by Ian:
It’s a far cry from the halcyon days of interurban travel between the communities, operated by the London & Port Stanley Railway, however Aboutown Transportation is improving its current service,which hopefully proves popular, in particular Sunday service. Take note St. Thomas Transit. Here’s the details from the London Free Press.

Sarnia and St. Thomas — even Strathroy and Mount Brydges — are about to become more accessible for Londoners who rely on bus transportation.
Aboutown is expanding its North Link inter-city bus service to include regular daily service from London to Sarnia, with stops in Mt. Brydges and Strathroy.
The expanded service starts April 1. It will run four times daily, with the first bus leaving London at 8 a.m.and arriving in Sarnia at 9:35 a.m.
The new route gives travellers from Sarnia, Mt. Brydges and Strathroy direct and regular access to London’s Greyhound terminal on York Street.
“From there you can go just about anywhere in North America. And of course, the route connects with our shuttle service to the Detroit and Toronto airports,” Donnelly said.
To celebrate the expansion, Aboutown is inviting customers to take a free ride Thursday. The first customers to book seats ride for free.
A one-way adult ticket from Sarnia to London is $30. Discounts are available to students, seniors and children under 11.
Donnelly said he’s confident there will be enough demand for the new route to keep them busy.
“We expect to run 10- to 20-passenger buses but we can substitute anything from a sedan to a coach based on demand.”
The route also provides parcel service. Donnelly said by offering customers transportation of packages multiple times every day, Aboutown can provide a specialized service not offered by regular courier companies.
Aboutown’s London-to-St. Thomas service expands from twice on alternating days to seven days a week, with four runs on weekdays.
Mayors from Sarnia, Strathroy and St. Thomas will be on hand Thursday to receive the first buses to their cities and officially open the expanded route.
London’s Robert Q. Airbus also has routes to Sarnia, making two runs daily from London.

Realistic projections at IGPC ethanol plant in Aylmer?


Posted by Ian:
The IGPC ethanol plant recently brought online in Aylmer is projected to produce 150,000,000 litres of ethanol yearly, using 15 million bushels of corn. Are these still realistic expectations based on warnings posted by Jeff Wilson on Bloomberg.com recently that ethanol sales haven’t kept pace with the industry’s expansion, coupled with the fact at least six companies have sought bankruptcy protection in the past year. Here’s what’s noted by Wilson.

Waning Ethanol Demand

Ethanol sales haven’t kept pace with the industry’s expansion, as the 64 percent plunge in crude-oil prices from the record in July has curbed demand for alternative fuels. Increased U.S. fuel-efficiency standards may cap the growth in ethanol just as yield-enhancing seed technology from St. Louis- based Monsanto boosts corn output, Wells Fargo’s Michael Swanson said.

About 3.7 billion bushels of corn will be distilled to ethanol in the marketing year that began Sept. 1, up from a February forecast of 3.6 billion and 22 percent more than last year, the USDA said this month. In February 2008, it forecast 4.1 billion bushels would be used for ethanol this year.

Ethanol production will consume about 31 percent of this year’s U.S. corn crop, up from 23 percent in 2008, the USDA forecast on March 11. Distillery shutdowns from New York to California are gripping the industry as producers curb output or seek bankruptcy protection. Archer Daniels Midland Co., the second-largest U.S. maker of the fuel, estimated on Feb. 3 that 2.7 billion gallons, or 22 percent of U.S. capacity, was idle.

Ethanol Bankruptcies

At least six companies have sought bankruptcy protection in the past year, including VeraSun Energy Corp., once the largest publicly traded ethanol producer. The Sioux Falls, South Dakota, distiller entered Chapter 11 proceedings in October after bad bets on corn prices.

Every 1 billion gallons of ethanol production requires about 7 million acres of corn, Wells Fargo’s Swanson said. He estimates corn demand for ethanol may fall to as little as 3.4 billion bushels this year.

“We can lose 2 or 3 million acres of corn and not significantly tighten supplies,” Swanson said.

Farmers have little choice other than to keep planting and hope that crops in another area are damaged by weather, said Byron Jones, 68, who farms near Saybrook, Illinois. The economics may get even worse next year, as higher costs and lower revenue curb profit, making loans harder to get, he said.

“Global demand has diminished because of falling incomes,” Jones said. “Agriculture always lags the rest of the economy.”

Read full report

Boaters, ethanol backers at odds over damage by fuel


Posted by Ian:
Recreational boating, ATVs and snowmobiling are popular seasonal activities in Elgin county. What then would be the impact of using ethanol-based fuels in these marine and off-road vehicles?
Trouble, according to boat manufacturers in the U.S. as reported in this story from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Washington — At St. Charles Boat & Motor, owner and service manager Jerry Sims used to oversee the rebuilding of 30 carburetors in a year’s time. Last year, Sims says, he stopped counting at 750. They were victims, he claims, of ethanol in gas.

“It’s killing motors right and left,” Sims said. “But the EPA keeps shoving it down everybody’s throats.”

Armed with damage stories and test results suggesting more problems on the horizon, the boating industry is fighting to block a drive by fuel manufacturers to increase ethanol in the fuel supply from 10 percent to 15 percent — or E15.
Full story

Fuel from waste coming soon


Motorists could soon be using fuel made from trash, including old tyres and plastic bottles, to power their cars, an alternative fuel expert says.

Wes Bolsen, from US company Coskata, said anything that included carbon could provide the basis of ethanol, an alternative fuel with the potential to cut the world’s reliance on petrol and slash greenhouse gas emissions.

Full story