Today Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli released the province’s new Long Term Energy Plan. The new plan has the potential to reduce electricity costs by importing low-cost water power from Quebec and Manitoba, and by ramping up energy efficiency efforts.
Specifically, according to the Plan, Ontario will “pursue contractual arrangements for firm imports where cost effective and well matched to Ontario’s electricity needs.” Furthermore, it notes that “… energy imports can provide value if their price is less than domestic generation. They can also further diversify Ontario’s supply.”
In fact, Ontario can reduce its electricity bills by more than $1 billion per year by importing Quebec water power, thereby avoiding the need for the costly re-building of the Darlington Nuclear Station.
On the energy conservation front, the government announced that it has decided to apply its Conservation First policy to natural gas as well as electricity. This means that Ontario is now committed to meeting our electricity and natural gas needs by investing in all cost-effective energy conservation and efficiency resources before investing in new electricity and natural gas supply, which is great news for consumers and our environment.
As for nuclear, the plan commits to continued – and in our view completely unnecessary – re-building of nuclear units, but it does at least make a rhetorical commitment to putting these projects on a shorter financial leash and lays out an extended construction timeline with “appropriate off-ramps” for when it becomes clear that these projects are neither needed or cost effective.
There is no question that if the government seriously pursues an agreement to import low-cost Quebec power and makes Conservation First planning a reality, we will be taking those nuclear off ramps sooner rather than later.