The Ontario Clean Air Alliance sends out email bulletins on air quality and energy issues two to three times a month. Read our latest bulletins below or browse the archive. You can also add your own thoughts on the issues raised in our bulletins by clicking the "Add Comment" link below each posting.
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.
Ontario Power Generation (OPG) wants to increase the rate it receives for power from its nuclear units by a whopping 30% next year. OPG is basically asking to dig into electricity ratepayer pockets at the rate of $755 million a year to pre-pay for rebuilding its aging Darlington Nuclear Station.
OPG is also asking for a significant increase in the rate it receives for power from its heritage hydro projects – dams and power plants that were built many, many decades ago. Some of this money may be used to update these facilities, but it is just as likely to be used to subsidize the rebuilding of the Darlington plant given the rock bottom costs of operating 60 or 70 year old water power plants.
According to OPG, its rate increases will raise the average residential customers’ electricity bill by $64.32 per year.
In other words, OPG is building up a war chest at the expense of ratepayers to pay for a project where costs are simply guesstimates and the chances that the final price tag will soar into the stratosphere are high. Already, OPG has spent almost a billion dollars to re-build Darlington and plans to spend another $1.5 billion over the next two years – and that’s just the start.
Ontario has many lower cost and safer options for meeting its electricity needs, everything from ramping up efficiency and conservation at a cost of about 3 cents a kilowatt-hour (kWh) to importing power from Quebec at a cost of 4 cents a kWh, less than half what even OPG is optimistically promising power from a re-built Darlington Station will cost.
With demand for electricity in Ontario falling – and projected to continue to fall for the foreseeable future – and new technologies rapidly improving both our energy efficiency and the economics of renewable power generation, nuclear is essentially obsolete. And just as you likely wouldn’t try to rebuild your 20-year-old car when you saw the greater reliability and lower operating costs of a new vehicle, we shouldn’t be wasting money re-building outdated reactors.
Please tell Premier Kathleen Wynne and Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli to stop the OPG money grab and focus on lower cost, safer and more responsible power options instead.
The numbers tell the story: Quebec is exporting clean, renewable water power at half the cost of what Ontario Power Generation optimistically estimates will be the cost of electricity from a re-built Darlington nuclear station. And that means Ontario can save more than $1 billion a year by importing low cost power from our neighbour instead of rolling the dice on another costly nuclear nightmare.
That’s $1 billion a year that can help to lower electricity bills for both consumers and businesses in Ontario. It’s $1 billion a year less for power that we can rely on now -- not a risky bet on power from re-built reactors years from now. (New Brunswick’s Lepreau nuclear re-build recently came in 2.4 times over-budget and three years behind schedule.)
No radioactive mess to clean up and no massive cost overruns -- this brighter solution is right next door.
Here are the facts:
If you think Ontario should quickly reap the benefits of low cost power from our neighbour, help us tell others about this tremendous opportunity by distributing our new Water power from Quebec pamphlet. We need to make our friends and neighbours aware that Ontario has a much better choice than taking a high-risk gamble on another nuclear project – remember, every nuclear project in the province’s history has gone massively over budget (and this time will be no different no matter what the nuclear industry says).
Order our Water power from Quebec pamphlet and let everyone you know in on the secret of the great deal we can get from Quebec! They’re free, and contain postcards to Premier Wynne, making it easy for people to chime in on the energy debate. Click here.
Thank you for helping us get the word out.
P.S. Please go to Premier Wynne’s Common Ground web site and vote for and/or comment on my proposal to import water power from Quebec to lower our electricity bills by more than $1 billion per year. She needs to hear from us! Thanks.
Today Ontario Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli confirmed that the province will not spend upwards of $26 billion on completely unnecessary new nuclear reactors at the Darlington Station.
It’s been evident for some time now that the cost of new reactors would be astronomical, that their power was not needed now, and that there was little likelihood it would needed in the future.
Now that our energy decision makers’ feet are getting a little closer to the ground, it’s time for them to also come clean about the plan to rebuild the existing reactors at Darlington. Again, the cost has been vastly understated, the need overstated, and the alternatives ignored. Let’s just hope that the government sees the light on this hopeless case and lets the second shoe drop on nuclear in Ontario before we have another giant cost fiasco on our hands.
But for today, please congratulate Energy Minister Chiaralli on demonstrating some strong common sense by nixing new reactors. And remind him that he should give the same sensible attention to the costly and unnecessary Darlington Re-Build Plan.
Help make low-cost water power from Quebec a Liberal priority
Right now, the Ontario Liberal Party is asking for your ideas on how to build a better province. They’ve created an online “Common Ground” forum to discuss ideas like how to create a sustainable energy system. So we’ve given them one: Import low-cost water power from Quebec and save more than $1 billion per year compared to the cost of rebuilding the aging Darlington Nuclear Plant.
If you’d like to save money with safer water power from Quebec, click here to join the discussion in the Common Ground forum and vote for our idea. You can comment too.
With demand for electricity falling thanks to improvements in efficiency, renewable energy costs plunging, and our neighbours grappling with a rapidly growing power surplus, this is the worst time to lock into high cost nuclear mega projects. By combining water power imports from Quebec with cost-effective investments in conservation and efficiency in Ontario, we can retire the aging Darlington and Pickering Nuclear Stations and lower our electricity bills. Click here to find out more.
Forward this to your friends and family to help make our idea “hot” and help convince Premier Wynne to adopt our common sense solution.
Thanks for your help!