We’re glad Ontario’s new energy plan puts energy conservation first and continues to build renewable energy. This plan can allow the province to continue to green our grid, tackle climate change and save families and businesses money by cutting energy waste.
The plan recognizes that our economy is becoming more efficient, meaning we don’t need to plan for perpetual growth in energy needs as a sign of a healthy province.
The decision to cancel plans for new nuclear reactors protects ratepayers and taxpayers from being saddled with billions of dollars in costs for a needless and risky undertaking. It’s encouraging that the Pickering Generating Station may close earlier than planned if the energy from it isn’t needed.
We hope that this plan leads to a process for making smarter decisions about the scale of nuclear refurbishment in the future, one that properly considers the province’s realistic energy needs and alternatives. This will only be achieved if the full costs of nuclear projects are transparent, and new options like renewable energy and conservation are put on a level playing field.
Responses to key details in the plan:
Energy conservation: The plan says that the energy agencies will be directed to secure all cost-effective energy conservation before building new generation, for electricity and natural gas. If implemented by the agencies, this approach means homeowners and businesses will be given more opportunities and tools to cut energy waste and reduce bills. The target of 30 TWh of conservation by 2030 means an annual reduction of approximately 1.5 per cent.
Renewable energy: The plan commits for 540 MW of procurement of large-scale wind, solar, biomass and hydro in 2014 and 2015. This, along with the 900 MW of small projects announced previously, can provide greater predictability for the sector in the short-term.
Energy demand: The LTEP anticipates a lower demand future. This is a significant shift from previous LTEPs. It means the plan is built around a more prudent and realistic assessment of future energy needs, and can prevent the province from locking into an over-abundance of energy supply based on inflated predictions of energy demand.
Nuclear energy: New nuclear reactors are not part of the LTEP. Pickering may be shut down earlier than planned depending on projected demand. While it’s unfortunate that the decision has been made to proceed with refurbishing two units in 2016 in the absence of a transparent review of costs, needs and alternatives, the LTEP says that refurbishment will take “into account future demand levels” and lays out several principles for proceeding with the rest of the units. The principles include the ability to deliver on time and on budget, which could protect ratepayers from the inevitable cost overruns. This could lead to a more rational decision-making process around refurbishment. We welcome these guiding principles and hope that future decisions about the scale of refurbishment will consider the need and cost-effectiveness when compared to other options like renewable energy and energy conservation.
Pipelines: The LTEP states that Ontario will extend the new public review process for Transcanada’s ‘Energy East’ tar sands pipeline to all future oil and natural gas pipeline proposals. Ontario recently announced it would conduct a broad and transparent public consultation process on Energy East, as well as outlining six key principles to evaluate them.
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