Environmental groups say only energy
conservation can solve electricity crisis
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.”