City acts to reduce energy consumption
Mayor urges Sault residents to do their part to save power
By Elaine Della-Mattia
The lights might be off in some city buildings, but it’s
business as usual for city staff.
All city services and buildings will remain open but
with a plan to concentrate on conservation efforts.
CAO Joe Fratesi said that the city has chosen not to
close its doors, "but is taking reasonable steps
to curb the use of electricity and conserve energy,"
while Ontario’s energy system is being restored to normal
Rolling blackouts are still a possibility in the wake
of the biggest blackout in North American history that
left 50 million people in the dark.
Mayor John Rowswell said in a telephone interview from
Toronto Monday that Sault Ste. Marie is fortunate to be
in a fully powered city but still needs to do its part
to help the province. "We are participating to the
extent we can participate," he said during a break
in the Association of Ontario Municipalities conference.
"We can service ourselves with Great Lakes Power
but we are sharing our extra resources with others,"
"I’m pleased with the plan our Emergency Planning
Committee has come up with with the PUC and Great Lakes
Power," Rowswell said.
The city’s energy conservation schedule will include
using as much natural lighting as possible, setting air
conditioning in all municipal facilities at 78 Fahrenheit
(25 C), turning off non-essential equipment including
printers, photocopies and limiting computer use and adjusting
hot water tanks from "hot" to "warm".
Fratesi said that about 50 per cent of the city’s staff
is not working because of scheduled vacation time and
that in itself helps conserve.
All large copying or print jobs will be put on hold,
and all unnecessary appliances will be turned off.
The city, which was to begin its ice-making operations
at the Memorial Gardens Monday, will hold off and review
the situation daily.
Ice surfaces remain intact at the John Rhodes Community
Centre but temperatures to preserve the ice will be reduced
to a minimum level, close to 21 C, preserving about 50
per cent of the power, Fratesi said.
"That means there’ll be ice, but somewhat softer
ice," he said.
Meanwhile, the Pee Wee Arena is operational with minimal
power being used to maintain the ice service. Other services,
such as the canteen, are not operational.
The city’s Rhodes pool facilities also remain open with
various air conditioning units cranked to higher temperatures.
The Sault Ste. Marie Public Library will also remain
open with reduced lighting and air conditioning.
City transit will maintain its regular schedule for area
residents and city staff will not make any unnecessary
"If you come to city hall, it may take a few minutes
to get a computer warmed up but you will be served,"
Fratesi said. He said that the city’s measures are similar
to those in other Northern Ontario municipalities such
as North Bay and Timmins.
PUC president and CEO Brian Curran said that there will
not be a reduction in street lights throughout the city
at night, largely because it is a public safety issue
and because the lights are programmed to come on at dusk,
after the critical period of energy consumption is over.
The city’s water system has been up and running throughout
the weekend and reservoirs are at or near capacity with
working back-up systems, he said.
Rowswell said he believes larger cities will have some
lasting long-term effects from the blackout which affected
most of Ontario and parts of neighbouring states.
He said that some cities may adopt ongoing conservation
measures while others will be affected through a segmentation
of grids so that there is no chance of a cascading collapse
of power in the system as there was on Thursday.
Fratesi said that the management team will meet daily
to review its conservation plan and determine if further
action is needed.
"If we close some of our offices we’ll be the subject
of criticism or if we remain open, we still may be the
subject of some criticism but we have put energy conservation
measures into effect in all of our operations," he