New green energy facility is powering up the Eglinton Crosstown LRT

Construction is underway on a state-of-the-art back-up power facility that will not only keep a vital rapid transit line moving if the lights go out, it will also help a west-end Toronto community get one step closer to its ambitious sustainability targets.

The recipe for any good rapid transit project includes more than just tracks, trains and stations. They also need a whole lot of juice to move people from one end of the city to the other.

But what happens if the power goes out? There needs to be a back-up source of electricity available to keep transit riders from getting stranded.

A rendering shows a large building, with rows of solar panels on top.

A rendering of the back-up power facility, including the field of solar panels on the roof.

That’s why construction is underway on a new back-up power facility in the Mount Dennis community – that is primarily designed to keep the Eglinton Crosstown light rail transit (LRT) system moving in the event of a power outage.

Construction continues as freight trains roll by on the adjacent train tracks.

Construction continues as freight trains roll by on the adjacent train tracks.

Not only will the facility be capable of providing emergency power to the LRT for up to four hours in the event of a wide-spread power outage, it’s expected to provide environmental benefits and operating cost savings. Off-peak, lower cost electricity can be stored at night which will then be available during on-peak periods during the day, reducing grid peak demand and lowering emissions as well as operating costs.

The energy storage system will have a capacity of 10 MW / 30 MWh – that’s enough to power 8,000 homes for a year – and will operate using lithium ion batteries and power conversion system units with AC-DC inverters and transformers.  A rooftop solar photovoltaic system will also be installed consisting of about 250 solar panels capable of generating 90kWDC of electricity.

Now let’s talk about the power of the people to push for a better way of doing things.

A natural gas powered option was originally proposed as part of the design for the Eglinton Crosstown LRT. While the community supported the transit project as a whole, local residents advocated for a greener back-up power option. Metrolinx listened and took this opportunity to work with the community to find a more sustainable solution.

Metrolinx and Toronto Hydro worked together to explore various options and in January 2018, Toronto Hydro awarded a contract to Renewable Energy Systems (RES) Canada Inc. to design, build and maintain a battery energy storage system for the Crosstown LRT.

Bulldozers work on the back-up power facility for the Crosstown LRT

The back-up facility will be right next to the Mount Dennis Crosstown LRT station.

“Metrolinx is excited to be part of this collaborative, innovative solution for the Eglinton Crosstown LRT with Toronto Hydro,” said Metrolinx President & CEO Phil Verster. “The battery energy storage facility reflects Metrolinx’s commitment to the community, the project, and the province.”

Projects like this are just another feather in the cap for the Mount Dennis/Weston community.  The west-end neighbourhood is working towards becoming Toronto’s first “Net Zero Energy” locality and rapid transit combined with green technology is a big part of their recipe for success.

What moves them, will also help move a city.

Story by: Lancefield Morgan, Metrolinx Community Relations Specialist