The Ontario Clean Air Alliance sends out email bulletins on air quality and energy issues two to three times a month. Read our latest bulletins below or browse the archive.  You can also add your own thoughts on the issues raised in our bulletins by clicking the "Add Comment" link below each posting. 

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It’s official: Coal is kaput in Ontario

On April 8th, the Thunder Bay Generating Station burned its last lump of coal marking the end of an era in Ontario. Thunder Bay was the last of the province’s five dirty coal-fired generating stations to close. Nanticoke, formerly the largest coal-fired power plant in North America,  was closed in December 2013, following on the heels of the closure of the Lambton Generating Station in October 2013, the conversion of the Atikokan station to biomass, which began in 2012, and the closure of Lakeview Generating Station in 2005.
Now with this final puff from Thunder Bay, Ontario has successfully eliminated the province’s single biggest source of smog, toxins, acid rain and greenhouse gases. This is no less a victory for people in Northern Ontario than it is for residents of the once smog-choked South. Coal burning at Thunder Bay and Atikokan led to rising mercury levels in northern lakes and damaged northern forests through acid rain. Fortunately, the north is rich in cleaner energy alternatives, from water power to wind.
Ontario’s coal phase out is a remarkable achievement and a tremendous example to the world. This is a great day for our province and our planet! The OCAA is proud to have played a central role in pushing forward the largest single action on climate change in North America. Thank you for your help!

Ontarians strongly support making a deal with Quebec

Ontarians overwhelmingly support importing low-cost water power from Quebec. In fact, a large majority would prefer to import water power rather than re-build the Darlington Nuclear Station, even if power from Quebec costs the same as power from those re-built reactors!
These are the key finding of a new Oraclepoll Research opinion poll. The poll found that close to 80% of Ontarians are in favour of tapping into Quebec power imports.
This strong thumbs up for renewable and clean water power is not surprising when you look at the facts. Over the past ten years, electricity generated by nuclear plants in Ontario has increased by 44%. Over the same period, wholesale electricity prices have risen by 50% (see our new factsheet Nuclear power production up, electricity prices up) . Ontarians increasingly understand that, despite the rhetoric from nuclear companies, nuclear energy is raising our electricity bills.
Now the Ontario government wants to spend tens of billions of dollars re-building the Darlington Nuclear Station despite the fact that no nuclear project has ever been finished on time or on budget in Ontario; and despite the fact that Quebec’s average export price in 2012 (4.1 cents per kWh) was less than half of Ontario Power Generation’s best-case estimate of the cost of re-building Darlington (8.3 cents per kWh).
Clearly, the people of Ontario are ready for a more sensible solution. It’s time to make a long-term deal with Quebec for low-cost water power instead of re-building Darlington.
The poll surveyed 1,000 Ontario residents between March 21st and March 30th and has a margin of error of 3.1%. You can see the full results on our website.

Ontario sends conservation to the back of the bus – again

Despite promising to put “Conservation First” the Wynne Government’s new conservation plan once again treats low-cost efficiency improvements as an afterthought. In its new conservation strategy, the government is capping the savings to be generated by utility conservation programs at less than 1% of total electricity usage over the next six years.
This is the kind of thinking that has led to Ontarians using 50% more energy per person than our neighbours in New York State. It has also fed rising bills as the government focuses on costly nuclear mega-projects instead of fully exploiting fast and cheap energy conservation.
The cap being put in place by Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli is certainly not going to help homeowners or businesses to bring down their utility bills. According to the Ontario Power Authority, the cost of our electric utilities’ energy conservation and efficiency programs will be just 3.5 to 4 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh). That means saving a kWh will cost 50% less than Ontario Power Generation’s best-case estimate of the cost of generating power from a re-built Darlington Nuclear Station (8.3 cents per kWh). Why are we capping our use of a resource that can keep our lights on at less than half the cost of re-building Darlington?
Instead of protecting the interests of nuclear companies, Minister Chiarelli should be working with utilities to capture all of our cost-effective conservation potential, not just a fraction. That is, after all, what putting “Conservation First” means.
We need to tell Premier Wynne it’s time to take the brakes off and start catching up with our competitors when it comes to using energy efficiently. Please click here to send a letter to the Premier and tell her that you want Ontario’s municipal utilities (e.g., PowerStream, Toronto Hydro) to be allowed to pursue all of the cost-effective energy conservation and efficiency measures that can reduce your electricity bills. It’s time to really put consumers and conservation first.
Please pass this message on to your friends.
Thank you.
Angela Bischoff

Donate a little, save a lot

Donate a little, save a lot
With your help, we can save Ontario billions, actually lowering your electricity bills.
While our political leaders tilt at windmills and ring their hands over rising electricity costs, the Ontario Clean Air Alliance continues to point to the real causes and real solutions for rising bills.
The real cause is high-priced nuclear projects that never deliver on their promise of affordable power. The real solution is to import low-cost, clean and safe water power from Quebec rather than wasting $21 to 35 billion on another generating station boondoggle – the re-building of the aging Darlington Nuclear Station.One of our most effective tools for getting the message out is our pamphlet calling on Premier Wynne to sit down with Quebec and make a deal.
We’ve already distributed thousands of these pamphlets with the help of our member organizations and volunteers. But we want to print another 20,000 copies – and we need your help to make it happen.
By making a donation to the OCAA, you can help us shine a light on how we can keep electricity costs under control. And that will end up saving you and everyone you know in this province a bundle.
Help us get the word out. Just $100 will allow us to print and distribute 550 pamphlets ($50 = 275 leaflets). Please click here to make a donation.
Working together we can lower our electricity bills and move Ontario towards a 100% renewable electricity grid.
Thank you! 

Ontario still hasn’t learned from Fukushima

Today marks the third anniversary of the Fukushima nuclear disaster. Three years later, this plant continues to teeter on the edge of disaster with painfully slow progress to stabilize the reactors and to control vast amounts of radioactive water flowing through and around them.

Today, over 430,000 tons of highly radioactive water is estimated to be stored at the Fukushima site in some 1,000 + (often leaking) storage tanks. Still to come is the very tricky removal of molten, highly radioactive fuel from Units 1-3 and then the dismantling of the wrecked reactor buildings themselves. Meanwhile, 100,000 people are still displaced from their homes, likely never to return.

But it could never happen here, right? Well, it’s certainly a long shot that a tsunami would slam into the Pickering or Darlington Nuclear Stations. But that is far from the only way things can go awry at a nuclear plant. Don’t forget:

  • The world’s first civilian nuclear accident occurred in Ontario at the Chalk River facility in 1952. It took two years to clean up the aftermath of a hydrogen explosion combined with fuel and radioactive cooling water leaks.
  • Four reactors at the Pickering plant were shutdown in 1998 after a scathing safety review of the plant found numerous problems. One of the issues was inadequate emergency shutdown systems, exactly the kind of problem that led to the disaster at Fukushima.

Now Ontario Power Generation (OPG) wants to run Pickering for another five years despite the fact that the plant will reach the end of its design life this year. We think they should shut it down instead. Consider that Pickering is also a giant money loser – one of the most expensive to operate nuclear plants in North America.

Fortunately, our neighbours in Quebec have a growing surplus of clean, safe water power that we could import at a much lower cost than power from Pickering or a rebuilt Darlington, both on Lake Ontario, less than 50 kms from Toronto. It’s time to tell Premier Wynne to be sensible and opt for Quebec imports over risky gambles on aging nuclear plants.

You can hear more about the lessons Ontario should learn from Fukushima tonight. OCAA Chair Jack Gibbons will be talking about how Ontario can avoid a nuclear disaster (both environmental and economic) in an “ Oss Talk” at The Ossington, 61 Ossington Ave., Toronto, starting at 7 p.m. If you can’t make it, we’ll post a recording on our website in a few days.

- Angela Bischoff

P.S. For more on Fukushima, see my latest No Nukes Newsletter.

Where the by-election candidates stand on controlling electricity costs

Niagara Falls and Thornhill voters get answers

Electricity prices have been a big issue in the two current provincial by-elections.  So we asked the candidates from the four major parties whether they were prepared to oppose Ontario Power Generation’s (OPG’s) request for a 30% price increase for nuclear power and whether they would strike a deal for lower-cost water power imports from Quebec instead.

Candidates from two parties – the NDP and Greens – said yes.  The Liberal party candidates said they would leave it to the Ontario Energy Board to decide whether to grant OPG a price increase and that “the Ontario government has laid out a plan to consider opportunities for clean imports from other jurisdictions, but only when the scenario is right for Ontario ratepayers.”

The Progressive Conservative candidates refused to reply, despite campaigning on the need to bring down electricity costs and blaming green power sources for price increases, while ignoring the fact that it is nuclear energy that is far and away the largest contributor to recent price rises.

Voters in Niagara Falls and Thornhill have an interesting choice to make:  Support the status quo of giant and costly nuclear projects that have a long history of running vastly over budget or support candidates interesting in developing a more flexible and cost-effective system by working with our neighbours in Quebec. 

Click here for the candidates full responses