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Ontario releases long-term energy plan; advocacy group calls it “bad news”


December 2, 2013
By Manufacturing AUTOMATION

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The Ontario government has released its updated long-term energy plan, Achieving Balance, which it says “encourages conservation and lays out a plan for clean, reliable and affordable energy for Ontarians, where and when they need it.”

The 2013 Long-Term Energy Plan (LTEP) balances five principles that the province believes will guide future decisions: cost-effectiveness, reliability, clean energy, community engagement, and an emphasis on conservation and demand management before building new generation.

Compared to the previous plan, Achieving Balance is expected to reduce projected cost increases by $16 billion in the near term (2013-2017), and $70 billion by 2030. These cost reductions will be realized even as Ontario keeps its commitment to phase out the last of its coal-fired generation by the end of 2014, the province says.

According to the new plan, Ontario will achieve balance in the energy sector by:

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• Decreasing the need for new supply by implementing conservation programs and standards to offset most growth in electricity demand over the next 20 years;

• Lowering costs. Compared to LTEP 2010, residential customers can expect to pay about $520 less over the next five years and $3,800 less by 2030, and industrial consumers can expect to pay $3 million less over the next five years and $11 million less by 2030;  

• Expanding Demand Response programs to help achieve a 10 per cent reduction in peak demand by 2025. This is equivalent to approximately 2,400 megawatts under today’s forecast conditions – equivalent to twice the average demand of Hamilton and Kitchener combined.

• Making new financing tools available to consumers starting in 2015, including programs to incent energy-efficient retrofits to residential properties;

• Moving ahead with nuclear refurbishment at both Darlington and Bruce Generating Stations, beginning in 2016;

• Extending the phasing-in of wind, solar and bioenergy for three more years than estimated in the 2010 LTEP, with 10,700 megawatts online by 2021. By 2025, about half of Ontario’s installed generating capacity will come from renewable sources;
• Developing a new competitive procurement process with the Ontario Power Authority for future renewable projects larger than 500 kilowatts;

• Continuing to encourage First Nation and Métis participation in transmission and renewable energy projects; and

• Issuing an annual Ontario Energy Report to update Ontarians on changing supply and demand conditions, and to outline the progress to date on the LTEP.

The new plan reflects input received from thousands of people across the province. Many individuals and organizations participated in person and online to contribute their thoughts and ideas.

However, not everyone is happy with the new plan. Advocacy group Wind Concerns Ontario said that the new Long-Term Energy Plan released by Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli has no real change, and maintains the same targets for wind power development, just a longer time frame. The group said that’s bad news for ratepayers and taxpayers affected by higher electricity rates as a result of the province’s push for “green” power.

“Ontario never did a cost-benefit analysis for wind power, but now we know what the costs are,” said Wind Concerns Ontario president Jane Wilson. “Very little power produced, power produced out of phase with demand, and few of the thousands of jobs promised. At the same time, the costs are skyrocketing electricity rates, plummeting property values, and absolute tyranny through industrialization of Ontario’s rural communities with huge wind power plants.”

Wilson noted that the Energy Minister’s response to criticism about electricity rates is to produce a new website that featured a tutorial on how consumers can better use electricity.

“That was pure insult,” she said, “especially to rural residents forced to pay horrendous delivery charges for power, and who are already doing all they can to conserve while the government continues with policies that drive up costs.

“We need change, not blame,” Wilson added.

Wind Concerns Ontario policy calls for no new Feed In Tariff or subsidy contracts for wind, cancellation of the contracts where construction has not yet begun, and compensation for people who have lost value in their properties neighbouring wind power projects, or whose health has been affected.