ONTARIO VOTES 2007

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How should Ontario deal with its energy needs?

September 25, 2007 | 10:24 AM

As the party leaders enter the third week of the election campaign, the focus is starting to shift towards keeping the lights on in the province in years to come.

Ontario currently has a generating capacity of 31,000 MW of energy, which flows from the province's 108 plants through over 29,000 km of transmission lines to power up homes and businesses.

But demand is growing at 1.5 per cent annually according to the Independent Electrical System Operator. That increase, paired with plans to close the four coal-fired power plants and the need to refurbish or replace 80 per cent of the existing plants by 2020 means energy need is quickly outpacing generating capacity.

Shortages are already being felt. On Sept. 25, six of the province's nuclear reactors were offline for maintenance, which, when paired with soaring temperatures, meant the province had to import more than 2,000 MW from the United States and Quebec.

The parties all have very different plans to keep the province powered. The Liberals plan to shut down the coal-fired plants by 2014, refurbish two nuclear reactors and promote renewable sources. Under a PC government, coal scrubbers would be installed on the four coal plants and nuclear capacity would be expanded past the two reactors already in the works.

Meanwhile, the NDP and the Greens want to stop any nuclear expansion. The NDP platform promotes energy efficiency and would see the Nanticoke plant — considered the worst polluter of the four — closed by 2011, while the Green party would close the coal-fired plants by 2009, dependant on whether consumers could reach energy reduction targets.

Read moreabout Ontario's energy crunch.

Do you think the province is facing an energy crisis? What kind of mix would you like to see for Ontario's energy future?

« Is Ontario falling behind the other provinces? | Main | Is Ontario headed for minority government? »

This entry is now Closed. View the comments.

Comments: (16)

Jacob Hopkins (Havelock_Ont) wrote:

Hey, i know that im not legaly entitled to vote, but i would like to have my say. I beleive that our current energy situation is tending toward a crisis. Now dont get me wrong, In my opinion this crisis isnt going to happen within the next few years, but if we continue down the road we are on, in a couple of decades i belive we will be on the verge of that crisis.

In my opinion we should switch from non-renewable resources as much as possible, with the exception of Nuclear power. Hyrdo-electricity, Wind turbines and Nuclear power plant's are what we need to focus on in the creation of electricity. Renewable resources are, obviusly, eco-friendly yes, but Nuclear, even though its non-renewable is a infinetly better choice than coal. Coal plants pump out a ton of pollution each day, nuclear wase however can be exposed of rather simply and efficently, albeit having a large price tag possibly.

Space! if we start sending this nuclear waste to the great and final fronteir than we wont have to worry about it contaminating our land, catapul it off toward the sun, it will be destroyed with nothing to wory about. Thank you.

Posted October 10, 2007 09:33 PM

James (Belleville) wrote:

Until there is an alternative clean energy source found for Ontario and its industries the only power source that is going to meet our needs is nuclear energy.

I would think that the leaders of this province can see the affects of global warming which must be addressed immediately. Nuclear energy provides us a way to bridge the gap between fossil fuels and a clean altertinative source.

Could it be nuclear fusion? Let's start investing in research and development of these new alternative energy sources right now.

Posted October 10, 2007 09:31 PM

Rodica Z (Wainfleet_ON) wrote:

Hi There
My name is Rodica, I live in Wainfleet, ON.
I’m very upset with Hydro One, the way they rip us off. I supposed with liberals approval.

Here is on of my electric bill:

18 KWh with 5.500 Cents……………………$ 0.99
517 KWh with 5.300 Cents………………………$ 27.41
Delivery …………………………………………... $ 103.36
Regulatory Charges………………………………...$ 4.06
Debit Retirement charges…........$ 3.44
GST is in top of their retirements WAY? $ 8.36

TOTAL……………………………………..............$ 147.62

Way I have to pay theirs RETIREMENS?
Who is paying our retirements??

Way we pay so much delivery, when the delivery fees are flat rate $ 29.99 ??????

Way we have to pay theirs debts????
Who is paying our debts??????

Please don’t take me wrong, I accept to pay some delivery charges, %10-%20 from the usage of hydro, but don’t rip me off. Of course they have the money to built nuclear reactor, with our money, Give me my money back and I will decide what kind the environment I will live for my grandchildren. No nuclear.

Give me the money for delivery, regulatory charges & debt retirement and I will have the money for solar panels and wind mil

Posted October 4, 2007 07:39 PM

Robert (Toronto) wrote:

The NDP and the Greens are in a real bind.

They are catastrophizing about global warming so they claim we desparately need non-greenhouse gas producing energy sources.

The only one which can realistically meet Ontario's long-term energy needs is nuclear power.

Once global warming is eventually found to be either non-existent or non-man-made or non-catastrophic we will be up to our eyeballs in nuclear plants - and we will have the NDP and Greens to thank.

Posted October 2, 2007 06:36 PM

Richard (Perth) wrote:

Investing new money in nuclear would be a big mistake. The billions of dollars that any new nuclear would cost could go to individual homeowners in the form of grants to install solar PV and hot water systems. If the location was right, household size wind generation and micro-hydro could be supported. Both could be set up as cogeneration with net billing (resale of surplus power to the grid). If these were combined with grants for conservation and energy efficiency, demand could be greatly reduced.

Coal definitely needs to be phased out. In the short term coal gasification and natural gas could help but in the long term Ontario needs to catch up to other developed nations in the building and installation of solar, wind and other sustainable technologies. Job loss is raised as a concern. Why can’t WE design, build and install both large and small systems instead of always importing foreign equipment? Building and installing alone would create tens of thousands of jobs.

Has anyone one seen the new solar PV roofing tiles being installed in place of normal roofing on new houses in the USA? Half the cost of household solar is in the installation. If solar tiles can be used for new roofs and roofs that need re-shingling the homeowner gets a cost break and a grant now AND lower electricity bills into the future.

Posted September 30, 2007 05:30 AM

Jeff Brackett (Millbrook) wrote:

You can talk all you want about the need for home owners to time shift energy use to off peak hours, to invest in efficient light bulbs and appliances, to reduce energy demand in every way possible... it won't make one bit of difference so long as corporations can hold our jobs ransom and demand an unending supply of electricity which they in turn can waste with total abandon.

I work in a large manufacturing facility where their idea of cogeneration was to use high powered inefficient light bulbs to both light and heat the plant. Shouldn't there be a law against that? It's time for energy audits for major consumers of electricity, complete with manditory efficiency requirements.

Posted September 29, 2007 09:17 PM

M. Taylor (Oakville_Ontario) wrote:

Humans in the developed world have come to believe that we are entitled to unlimited supplies of whatever resources we desire: water, food, electricity, etc.

We are only now beginning to wake up to the fact that we may have to rethink our position before there is nothing left! The grim reality that politicians want to avoid discussing is that, if we do not become more energy efficient and reverse the trend of building non-renewable power sources, the problems of nuclear waste disposal and lack of resources will only be passed on to the next generation.

We need to stop and give our collective heads a shake. We have no right to behave in this way either to make a buck or to pass it on to our kids and grandkids!

Posted September 29, 2007 05:55 PM

suzette macskimming (Perth_Ont) wrote:

I oppose any further expansion of nuclear energy in Ontario. I am opposed to the present mining act and feel it should be scrapped and rewritten to respect aboringinal and property owners' below-ground rights.

I do hear that coal can be a clean energy source if the polluting substances can be returned to ground.

Posted September 29, 2007 04:03 PM

Eileen Kinley (Carleton_Place) wrote:

Improved efficiency, conservation, and renewable / sustainable means of generation are the only way to go. Nuclear should not even be considered.

Many people are living "off-grid" in rural Ontario. Surely, means can be found to scale some of that technology up to power multiple homes and businesses.

Human rights should not be trampled in order to explore and mine uranium.

The destruction that is required in order to mine uranium is indefensible. However, the integrity of the land, air and water MUST be defended, and the Algonquin blockade of the proposed uranium mining site near Sharbot Lake is doing just that.

Ontarians need to think very hard about the realities that could ensue from uranium mining. Typically, the tailings are dumped into existing lakes. Drive around the area of the proposed mine and try to choose which lakes should be filled, which views should be destroyed, whose habitat should be contaminated, whose lands should be taken over, whose descendants will be left with the legacy.

Then take a look at each political party's approach to energy generation and respect for aboriginal rights before marking an "x".

Posted September 29, 2007 08:31 AM

Dale Street (Toronto_ON) wrote:

Perhaps I'm being naive, but couldn't the Province make changes to the building code in respect to the energy-efficiency of new home construction?

They could also amend the code to require that new homes with the appropriate exposure to sunlight be fitted with solar panels at the time of construction. This, in theory, would increase the demand for home solar panels and reduce the manufacturing costs for each unit, thereby reducing the retail price for these products and making them more affordable for home-owners to install on older homes. Just a thought.

Posted September 27, 2007 10:40 AM

Mr. X (Ottawa) wrote:

Plasmification is the way of the future. It not only solves garbage problems facing our province but also the energy woes. Little to no polution, usable byproducts for paving highways, etc. Ability to generate mass amounts of electricity and there is a Canadian company willing to start them up. I'd rather see each Municipality have one or two of these incorporated into the mix than building huge windfarms or solar fields that will not be able to meet the demand of users.

Posted September 27, 2007 09:36 AM

Paul (ottawa) wrote:

In response to David from Niagara Falls - a couple of points. Wind generation and solar power generation typically coincide with peak demand in this province (example - on hot sunny days when electricity is needed for Air conditioning, solar PV is producing large amounts of power).

Secondly, there are many power storage technologies available today that effectively make "intermittent" sources such as wind and solar "dispatchable" sources (you get the power when you need it). Last, many sustainable power sources - biomass, hydroelectricity, cogeneration - can run 24/7/365.

And while we may not have the best deep geothermal conditions for large scale electricity use - you're right - we're not Iceland - we do in fact have an excellent wind regime, just take a look at the wind maps. Solar exposure in this province is also excellent.

The facts are there - we can turn off the coal and the nukes, save money and do our part for stopping climate change.

Posted September 26, 2007 04:22 PM

David (Niagara_Falls) wrote:

I get very concerned when I hear people minimizing the problems with creating electrical energy.

One of the posters was advocating geothermal energy, which (potentially) is a great source of power ... if you have the right conditions. Iceland, which has possibly the ideal conditions, currently generates 140MW from geothermal, with a potential of 1700MW for 100 years. This top number is less than we currently get from Nanticoke. Geothermal energy is low grade, which means the return from capital expenditure is very low.

windmills are great, but this is not a windy province in energy producing terms.

when the sun goes down and you want to turn on a light, dont expect your solar panel to supply the power.

Sure, we should be doing all of these things ... but the fact is that there is only so much money available for creating power generation. It has to be spent on systems that will produce a LOT of power, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Let us please keep the facts straight.

Posted September 25, 2007 09:52 PM

Aladdin (Toronto) wrote:

No question that Ontario is at an energy crossroads, but the much discussed crisis or 'crunch' is in fact due to previous investment in nuclear energy. Where Ontario's nuclear plants were once promised to last 40 years, they now require refurbishment or retirement after only 25.

The Ontario Power Authority energy plan has dramatically low-balled conservation, efficiency, and renewable potential, compared to what their own research has shown to be possible.

And while the industry presents nuclear as the alternative to coal, the two are, in fact, interdependent. Large, centralised nuclear generation is unreliable and inflexible. So when reactors break down unexpectedly (as happened at Bruce and Pickering this summer), production is increased at Ontario's coal-fired plants -- large, centralised backup.

There is no question that we could phase out coal and nuclear power, and transition to a modern, decentralised power supply. Conservation, efficiency, renewables, and local generation are the four cornerstones of a modern system. There is also no question that this would be more affordable, more reliable, and better for our health, economy, and environment.

The only barriers are political. Ontario is falling behind the rest of the world, and failing future generations.

Posted September 25, 2007 08:17 PM

Marc Kobayashi (MarkhamON) wrote:

A Nuclear power station takes 15 years to build, and I have yet to hear of a safe & economical way of disposing nuclear waste (stored & babysat for the next 27,000 years). Nor do I trust the current or any future government to commit to the costs of maintenance.

Where is the information on Geothermal energy? It takes only 8 years to build a Geothermal power station, and there are small scale Geothermal power solutions for individual homes. It’s very simple, cost effective, and multi purpose (electricity, heating, & hot water).

Solar power technology is one of the fastest growing power technologies, and can now harness infra-red light (power on a cloudy day). You can expect solar cell efficiency to continue to increase every year as there is still more potential untapped power to be harnessed.

Windmill technology has also come a long way with new turbine designs that run quietly compared to the common three blade format. Small windmills for individual homes are now very accessible with kits available at Hardware stores.

Instead of pouring billions into nuclear and other centralized power sources, Use the money for genuine incentives to get buildings and homes as self sufficient as possible. Add some incentives for companies to produce renewable energy products & services, mixed with mandatory building requirements, and watch the local green jobs grow.

I'd like to see legislation that requires all home builders to build a percentage of homes/communities with eco-friendly features (solar, geothermal, wind), with the percentage increasing accordingly.

I'd like to see solar panels on the unused spaces beside some of our major highways like they have already done in Europe. The 407 would be perfect, as it has plenty of unused buffer space, and runs perfectly parallel to a main Hydro Line.

I'd like to see substantial rebates for renewable power renovations, and payment if I've contributed more to the grid than I used (not just a $0.00 bill).

Posted September 25, 2007 02:38 PM

Paul (Ottawa) wrote:

No question that energy efficiency and renewable energy must be the cornerstones for energy planning in the province. Ontario residents and business waste electricity on a unparalled scale in the industrialized world - the opportunities to cut demand (and costs, incidentaly!) are massive.

Second - renewable energy (solar and wind particularly) are the fastest growing industries in the world. Ontario is planning only 200 MW of solar before 2025. Germany installed over 1000 MW last year. We're rapidly falling behind new economic opportunities.

By investing massive amounts in Nuclear, we're cutting off clean energy at a time when the industry is exploding. Renewable energy that creates more jobs per MW of installed power.

There should be no debate - renewable energy and energy efficiency are cost effective, create jobs in a geographically dispersed manner, can be installed incrementally and rapidly, and can meet all the needs for Ontario's power. Plus they don't create the emissions or waste of coal and nuclear. Oh, and your electricity bills will be lower too. What's to debate?

Posted September 25, 2007 02:25 PM

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