Ontario’s nuclear dreams no match for the reality of falling electricity demand
Since 2005, demand for electricity in Ontario has been steadily falling. In 2017, it fell a further 3.6% meaning that demand has dropped by 16% since 2005. That is the equivalent of taking 2.5 million homes off the grid – like unplugging all the houses and apartments in the City of Toronto twice over.
Ontario is not alone in seeing a sustained drop in demand. This is a trend that has taken hold in many countries and provinces thanks to new technologies such as super-efficient LED lighting and smart controls, cost-effective energy efficiency programs, and economic changes. In fact, reducing the need to generate electricity in the first place has become Ontario’s lowest cost way of addressing our energy needs – the province paid on average just 2.2 cents to save a kilowatt-hour of electricity in 2016.
But oddly, the Wynne government shows no signs of recognizing the growing mismatch between its plans to spend billions of dollars on re-building aging nuclear reactors and the ever-decreasing need for the power they would produce. In fact, in order to justify continuing to operate the 47-year-old Pickering Nuclear Station – the highest cost nuclear plant in North America – the province is currently curtailing 26% of the potential annual output of our cleaner and safer wind and solar power plants.
Does it make sense to pay 7 times more to re-build aging nuclear reactors than to enhance energy efficiency? Should we rebuild nuclear reactors that have to run 24/7 when demand is falling and supply patterns are being rapidly changed by the introduction of increasingly low-cost renewable sources? These are questions the government seems determined to ignore.
Instead of simply ignoring the numbers, a far better way to act on these trends is to strike a deal with Quebec to import low-cost, flexible water power; continue to expand our cost-effective conservation programs; and embrace new renewable energy opportunities right here at home.
Please pass this message on to your friends and sign our petition to close the high-cost and unneeded Pickering Nuclear Station when its licence expires in August.