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JULY 2006

 

Environmental groups say only energy conservation can solve electricity crisis

Toronto, Canada— Energy efficiency and low-impact renewable energy sources have the realistic potential to provide more than double the amount of electricity needed in worst case projections of Ontario’s future electricity demand.

That is the conclusion of a new report released by a coalition of leading environmental groups, including WWF-Canada, the David Suzuki Foundation, the Pembina Institute, Ontario Clean Air Alliance, the Sierra Club of Canada and Greenpeace.

“This is the Premier’s opportunity to set Ontario on the path to a true culture of conservation,” said Dr. Keith Stewart of WWF-Canada. “The green strategy we are putting forward will keep the lights on without frying the planet or our pocketbooks.”

Based on conservation-first approaches being used in Europe and United States and drawing primarily on research commissioned by the government and the Ontario Power Authority (OPA), the report concludes that Ontario has over 62,000 megawatts of green and clean energy potential that could be developed by 2020. Not all would be needed, as even the OPA estimates peak demand will be only 29,500 megawatts by then.

“Nuclear power’s high-cost and unreliability is the cause and not the solution to Ontario’s electricity woes,” said Shawn-Patrick Stensil, energy campaigner with Greenpeace Canada. “And given it takes at least ten years to build a new reactor, nuclear power cannot ease our energy crunch over the next decade. Conservation and green energy can.”

Poor performance and cost overruns at Ontario’s nuclear plants have put Ontario deeply in debt, and forced the province to rely heavily on aging coal plants. Ontario’s nuclear reactors have also created 30,000 tons of high-level radioactive waste that must be isolated from the environment for a million years.

While Premier McGuinty professes that stopping energy waste and sourcing renewable power are the priority, policy and programming has not yet been aligned to capture this green, clean potential. The organizations are recommending that the government’s directive to the OPA require:

  • •Aggressive pursuit of energy efficiency and modest expansions of hydropower, which can meet baseload power needs.
  • Wind, solar and biomass to provide the bulk of remaining needs.
  • Cogeneration of heat and power, and high-efficiency natural gas as a back-up to renewable sources.
  • Phase out coal, as planned.
  • No nuclear investment, as it is expensive, inflexible, and uniquely vulnerable to accidents and security threats.

“The Ontario Power Authority’s own research found that aggressive conservation would save Ontario consumers $7 billion over the next twenty years,” said Jose Etcheverry of the David Suzuki Foundation. “Yet they are pursuing only one fifth of the conservation potential in the province, while promoting expensive and unreliable nuclear reactors.”

“The government has already taken a world-leading first step down the green path in committing to phasing out Ontario’s dirty coal plants to protect public health,” said Jack Gibbons of the Ontario Clean Air Alliance. “Now is the time for Premier McGuinty to lead the way to a smart, green energy future without coal or nuclear power that will protect Ontario’s health, environment and economy.”


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