February 6, 2006

Phasing-out coal and increasing reliability

February 6, 2006 – Last week the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) recommended that the Lambton coal-fired power plant (Ontario’s #2 air polluter) and the Nanticoke coal-fired power plant (Canada’s #1 air polluter) be kept in reserve after their official shutdown dates (2007 and 2009 respectively) to “allow for continued reliability by providing insurance to accommodate schedule delays for the replacement generation or reduced production from existing or new facilities” (e.g., the high probability that Bruce Power will  fail to return its two shutdown nuclear reactors to service on-time and on-budget).

Fortunately there is a much better way to increase the reliability of Ontario’s electricity system: Reduce the demand for electricity on peak demand days (which are usually also smog alert days).

Last summer the IESO imported up to 3,000 megawatts of coal-fired electricity from the Ohio Valley on smog-alert days.  Adding insult to injury, dirty coal-fired electricity imports can cost Ontario 60 cents per kilowatt-hour or more on such days, according to Hydro One.

Premier McGuinty should direct the IESO to pay large electricity consumers (e.g., Toronto Hydro, Falconbridge, Magna, York Region District School Board) to shift some of their electricity consumption from peak to off-peak periods on smog alert days.  Such a program will provide multiple benefits for Ontario:

  • It will minimize or completely eliminate our need to import coal-fired electricity on smog-alert days.
  • It will dramatically increase the reliability of Ontario’s electricity system.
  • It will keep Ontario electricity consumers’ dollars in Ontario instead of exporting them to the U.S.A.
  • It will push down Ontario’s spot electricity prices on smog alert days and make our industries more competitive.
  • It will reduce air pollution in Ontario from the U.S.A. and reduce asthma attacks and other problems.

To see a brilliant 75 second audio-visual demonstration of how an Ontario electric utility can reduce its residential consumers’ peak day demands on a smog alert day please visit: http://www.coolsentry.com and click on “flash demo”.

Please contact Premier McGuinty, Dalton.McGuinty@premier.gov.on.ca, and ask him to direct the IESO to pay consumers to shift some of their electricity demands from peak to off-peak periods on smog-alert days.  Also, please thank Premier McGuinty for his unswerving commitment to phase-out our dirty coal plants as soon as possible.  We will all breathe easier once coal is gone.

Please pass this message on to your friends.

Thank you.

Jack Gibbons

Chair, Ontario Clean Air Alliance
402-625 Church St, Toronto M4Y 2G1
Email: info@cleanairalliance.org
Website: www.cleanairalliance.org