June 14, 2012

Industry needs help to increase energy productivity, not handouts

Ignoring advice from its own hand-picked economist, Don Drummond, to end the “Clean Energy Benefit” subsidy that is costing the province billions of dollars while reducing the incentive for smart energy use, the province is now piling on the pain with a new program to give huge electricity price discounts to large industrial electricity users.

The new Industrial Electricity Incentive Program speaks volumes about how the McGuinty government has completely abandoned its commitment to “building a culture of conservation.” Just last week the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario outlined how the province has let a series of important energy efficiency measures languish, thereby ignoring real opportunities to save Ontarians money, create jobs and strengthen the economy.

The 1950s approach of the Industrial Electricity Incentive Program, by contrast, reflects the glut of power the province has been left with thanks to the multi-billion dollar re-build of two aging reactors at the Bruce Nuclear Station. Of course, it is Ontario’s hard working families who will pick up the bill when the province gives big business electricity at 2 cents a kWh. (In fact, it’s pretty much an exact replay of what happened in the 1990s when the Darlington reactors came online to fill an electricity supply gap that had long since vanished in the time it took to complete that mega-project which came in 4.5 times over budget.)

The objective of creating jobs, making our industries more competitive, and spurring economic growth could be achieved much more intelligently – and at a much lower cost – by working with industries to improve their energy productivity (see, for example, Energy Efficiency Engine of Economic Growth in Eastern Canada). Instead, Ontario’s industrial strategy consists of requiring residential consumers to subsidize wasteful electricity consumption by big business.

Meanwhile, the government plows ahead in full “damn the torpedoes” mode with its plan to spend $21 to $35 billion to re-build the Darlington Nuclear Station despite all evidence that the power isn’t needed and the costs are too high. Will our government ever learn?

Please email Energy Minister Bentley (and cc me) and ask him to create sustainable jobs and lower electricity bills by investing in energy efficiency. Please tell him that subsidizing the wasteful consumption of high-cost electricity is a fool’s game.

Thank you – every letter helps influence provincial energy policy.

Angela Bischoff

p.s. If you haven’t already done so, please order our new leaflet Let’s Cut Some Real Waste, with a postcard to Energy Minister Bentley – help get the word out to your friends and community. They’re free!

Outreach Director
Ontario Clean Air Alliance
160 John Street, Suite 300, Toronto, Ont. M5V 2E5
Phone 416-260-2080 ext. 1
angela@cleanairalliance.org
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