Some things never change. Twenty years ago, Ontario Hydro said electricity use would just grow and grow and the province would need expensive new mega-generating plants to meet this skyrocketing demand. Turns out they were wildly wrong.
 
But today we see the same wrong-headed assumptions at work in the province’s discussion paper on its Long Term Energy Plan and energy conservation: over estimation of future demand for electricity and wildly under-estimated costs for new or rebuilt nuclear power plants.
 
It’s a real sign of a bureaucracy trapped in 30-year-old thinking which fails to keep up with changing technology and economic conditions. This outdated thinking has led to a proposed $100 million transmission line in the Guelph-Kitchener-Cambridge area, instead of dealing with the real problem: a spike in electricity demand on a handful of hot summer days. It’s like building a new wing on your house because you might have guests for a few nights a year.
 
The Guelph community has come together to develop a far-sighted Community Energy Plan that embraces solutions like: rewards for reducing power use in peak periods, local renewable generation like solar on rooftops that peaks on hot summer days just when the local power system is at its limit, and more efficient use of natural gas through solutions like combined heat and power production. To date, the province has mostly ignored the community’s clear thinking in favour of its old chestnut solutions.
 
This also seems to be the case for far too much of the thinking that is going into the province’s Long Term Energy Plan. Instead of making the most of flexible, dynamic and modern solutions, the province wants to instead protect an obsolete nuclear industry that has never brought a project in on time or on budget.
 
If you want lower bills and a healthy environment, now is the time to speak out. Consultations on the future direction of the province’s energy plans are now underway. There will be public open houses in Toronto next week (July 30 & 31), and Thunder Bay, Sudbury, Barrie and Ottawa in August. You can also just make comments on what you believe the province’s energy priorities should be through a simple response form .
 
The OCAA, together with other environmental organizations, has put together some materials to help you address the issues – please use them and circulate widely.
 
Thank you for helping shape provincial energy policy.
 
– Angela Bischoff
 
P.S. If you want a deeper look at that old-school thinking that still reigns in Ontario, read the Environmental Defence submission to the Ontario Energy Board about the Guelph Transmission Plan. Warning: This contains graphic and gruesome details of completely unnecessary over spending, evasive policy making, pre-determined answers to critical questions, and token efforts to incorporate new and better solutions, not unlike where we seem to be headed again with the provincial Long Term Energy Plan.