The Green Energy Act: A Renewable Is Doable Perspective
Cherise Burda , Director of Ontario Energy Solutions for the Pembina Institute comments on Ontario's Green Energy Act
Last month, Minister of Energy and Infrastructure, George Smitherman announced Ontario's forward-looking Green Energy Act (GEA). As a founding member of the Green Energy Act Alliance, the Pembina Institute is supportive of this legislation. The GEA is modeled after Germany's Green Energy Act, which has:
- proven to be the single most effective policy at reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the country, and
- has resulted in a thriving renewable energy economy creating hundreds of thousands of jobs in Germany.
The coming months will determine whether or not the Ontario GEA will clean up the province's energy supply or allow it to fall back into dirty old patterns.
A major concern with the Ontario GEA is that it stands in sharp contrast to the province's current electricity plan, which foresees only eight per cent of all of the power produced by 2027 coming from new green power sources like wind and solar. This is not sufficient to attract enough business to develop a domestic green power industry. Furthermore, the current plan projects that half of Ontario's power will come from nuclear reactors.
In fact, Ontario's electricity plan actually freezes the deployment of wind energy in 2018 in order to make room for new nuclear reactors. - Cherise Burda
To his credit, Minister Smitherman has called for a new electricity plan, which is due to be released this spring. If the new plan proves to be more in line with the proposed GEA it will be a pivotal point in Ontario's electricity future.
If you want to know more about this issue, read Cherise Burda's recent Op-Ed on the Ontario Energy Act
Ontario's Independent Electricity Operator Says There Are Better Alternatives to Nuclear Energy
Statistics released by Ontario's Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) show that the demand for electricity in Ontario declined by 2.3 % in 2008 and will decline by 1.3% in 2009 and 2.6% in 2010. With cost of nuclear plants going up, the demand for electricity going down and the rapid growth in renewable energy internationally, the Ontario government has good reason to implement green alternatives to nuclear energy.
The IESO states:The Pickering decision could affect Ontario's electricity system capacity by the retirement of 2,000 MW of capacity from Pickering B combined with the possible re-assessment of sustaining the 1,000 MW of operable capacity from Pickering A. This capacity and associated energy might be replaced with stepped-up implementation of conservation, more installation of renewables, more intensive operation of existing gas generation, the introduction of new build gas generation, or higher volumes of imports."
Reduction in Electricity Demand
The IESO predicts that demand will fall 1.3% in 2009 and an additional 2.6% in 2010. This drop is a product of:
- Ongoing, long-term structural changes in the economy away from energy-intensive activities combined with the ‘natural conservation' that occurs as older equipment is replaced with more efficient equipment as the capital stock turns over.
- The success of conservation programs.
- The economic downturn (although demand had already dropped significantly before the financial crisis hit).
Read Greenpeace Blog about the IESO report
Read a press release summarizing the IESO report
Read a news article about the IESO report
See Renewable is Doable Evidence at the OEB hearings - this major report shows a decline in demand forecast