Environment Hamilton Statement in Opposition to McMaster University Generator Installation
McMaster University is planning on moving forward with a Peak Shaver Generator project, which involves the installation of four gas-powered generators on Cootes Drive. The University anticipates the generators will be ready for testing in the next few months.
Environment Hamilton stands in solidarity with the students preparing to endure a hunger strike. We urge McMaster University to avert this action by cancelling the generator project.
The City of Hamilton has laid down foundations for transformative climate action with the approval of the ReCharge Hamilton plan this past August. According to this plan, the city’s net-zero vision: “ ... relies on fuel switching away from gasoline, diesel, coal, and natural gas ...”
The City has expressly stated that this project does not support their climate strategy.
And the reasons are clear. Hamilton is in third place in a list of Canadian cities with the worst air quality as of 2023. The proposed generators are also designed to quickly fire up in response to spikes in energy demand. This makes them more polluting—using 50 percent more natural gas to operate—compared to cleaner combined-cycle plants.
We do not believe that the savings from this project would be needed to fund future sustainability efforts. McMaster has accrued an operating surplus of 50 million during the 2021/22 fiscal year, with even higher surpluses in previous years. The cost of construction of these generators will also take about 13 years to break even, locking McMaster into more than a decade of fossil fuel use at a time when drastically reducing emissions is most crucial.
With all the viable alternatives that exist, including renewable energy contracts that could stimulate local jobs, McMaster cannot justify using out of province fracked gas in a city that declared a climate emergency in 2019.
In the wake of overlapping, on-going crises of the COVID-19 pandemic, racial and gender inequality, and the climate emergency, attitudes of indifference is harrowing, especially in institutions responsible for the development of young people, whose very future is jeopardized in business-as-usual decision making.
The students’ hunger strike will begin on March 20, 2023 unless McMaster University listens to the united calls of the city, the community, and the values of a Brighter World and cancels this gas generator project in favour of conservation and increased use of renewable green energy.
The Environment Hamilton Board of Directors and Staff