The Province of Ontario talks a great game about embracing efficiency and conservation to reduce the climate and environmental impacts of electricity generation. But actions speak louder than words and an analysis of expenditures by the Ontario Power Authority (OPA) reveals that the province is spending $119 on new supply sources for every dollar it is spending on energy efficiency and demand management initiatives.

Of course, efficiency and conservation efforts are much cheaper than building giant nuclear plants or large natural gas peaking plants, as the OPA’s own numbers make clear.  It is paying six times more per megawatt for new supply sources compared to what it is spending for a megawatt of efficiency measures ($1.7 million per MW of new supply vs. $260,000 per MW for conservation and demand management).   And that’s before you even include the ongoing costs for operating those new generating plants, to say nothing of inevitable nuclear cost overruns.

Unfortunately, however, the province seems to be clinging to a supply focus at all costs.  To date, the OPA has contracted for 11,279 MW of new supply compared to a paltry 600 MW of conservation and demand management. Is our new energy super minister George Smitherman ready to tackle this glaring imbalance?  Will he realign priorities to put cheaper and faster efficiency measures ahead of more supply spending?  Will he carry the emphasis on prevention – avoiding the need for new supply – that he developed as the Minister of Health over to the energy portfolio?  We can only hope so for the health of Ontario – and the planet. and ask him to direct the OPA to significantly increase the percentage of its budget spent on cost-effective efficiency and conservation measures. For more details on the OPA’s procurement efforts, please see the new fact sheet, Conservation vs. New Supply: A summary of the Ontario Power Authority’s procurement efforts, on our website at

Please contact Minister Smitherman at