You can tell the government what you think of the directions outlined in its discussion paper on renewing the Long Term Energy Plan by sending comments through the Environmental Bill of Rights website. Your submission can be anything from a simple one paragraph response to a detailed critique. You don’t have to be an expert – it is your right to have your views heard and considered in this process.
Below we outlined some key observations and concerns about the discussion paper to help you craft a response. When you’re ready, you can file your response through the simple web form on the EBR website.
Points to raise about the government’s direction
Putting conservation first
It is hugely important to maximize efficiency before spending on new or rebuilt generating sources because energy conservation and efficiency is the cheapest and fastest way to meet our power needs
It is also the cheapest and fastest way to reduce the environmental impacts of power production and use, including climate-destabilizing greenhouse gases
Improved efficiency can also reduce the need to import natural gas, keeping energy dollars in Ontario and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Energy conservation programs can also help low-income Ontarians with one of their largest monthly expenses and these programs need to be expanded to protect our most vulnerable citizens.
We need to close the gap with competitors like New York State, Vermont and California that have used dynamic and innovative efficiency programs to make their industries and businesses much more productive.
Response: The government must make the principle of reducing demand for electricity and natural gas by achieving all of our cost-effective efficiency potential the cornerstone of the LTEP plan.
Bend the cost curve
The government says it wants to “bend the cost curve” to ensure that electricity remains affordable for Ontarians. To do this it must act on its commitment to put conservation first as we know such measures cost a fraction of what it costs to build or rebuild nuclear or gas plants.
With recently completed (but years late) rebuild projects at the Bruce Nuclear Plant (Ontario) and Point Lapreau (New Brunswick) running billions of dollars over budget, this is no time to sign more blank cheques for the nuclear industry.
The public must be protected from nuclear project cost overruns by requiring that nuclear companies accept full liability for delays and cost overruns, just like every other type of power producer in Ontario.
Nuclear projects must also present robust public safety plans and include the full costs of storing highly radioactive waste for millions of years and decommissioning end-of-life plants.
We need to also be smart about where costs are headed: with added security and safety measures, nuclear costs are just going up and up. Costs for renewable energy technologies, on the other hand, are falling rapidly and many are now competitive with conventional power generation options.
Response: The government must provide full and complete disclosure on costs and risks of nuclear projects in the LTEP. A simple way to do this is to require competitive, all-costs-included fixed price bids for nuclear projects. We need to stop the 40-year trend of disguising the true costs of nuclear power that has left Ontario with $20 billion in debt.
As well, there should be no arbitrary quota for power produced by nuclear plants. The plan should instead rely on an open and public assessment of the lowest cost, lowest environmental impact mix for meeting our electricity needs.
Staying on the green energy path
Not only is renewable energy steadily getting cheaper, it also produces many additional benefits:
- Fast and cost-effective reduction in greenhouse gas emissions
- New income for farmers, small businesses and home owners
- Conversion of animal, food and crop waste to biogas produces valuable energy and produces a clean fertilizer that can be used much more safely on farms than raw manure.
- An emissions free source of peak power on some of our smoggiest summer days, which also happen to be top solar energy days.
- A new way to help pay for municipal infrastructure like arena or community centre upgrades thanks to revenue from rooftop solar or other municipally owned green energy installations
- New businesses and jobs in renewable energy design and production, green energy system installation, energy storage, smart grid applications and technology, and advanced new home construction.
- Cleaner and less costly power option for remote communities that depend on trucked-in diesel.
We need to recognize that these multiple “spin off” benefits are part of the reason that renewable energy continues to expand rapidly worldwide while expensive and problematic nuclear power capacity is steadily dropping.
Response: We need to continue to rapidly and steadily expand green energy development to lower greenhouse gas emissions as quickly as possible at the lowest cost. The plan should encourage municipalities and community organizations, including co-ops, to become more involved in green power development.
We need to go where the puck is headed
We need to think about a world that is rapidly changing, where power demand is falling due to economic shifts, new technology and stronger efficiency efforts; where an increasingly erratic climate will threaten our conventional electricity system; and where small, localized power used efficiently is the way of the future.
- We should be integrating renewable power options and state-of-the-art efficiency measures into all of our new homes and buildings
- We should be emphasizing the development of district energy systems using low or zero emission energy sources to meet the heating and electricity needs of entire communities.
- We should take advantage of the opportunity to trade energy with Quebec and Manitoba, using their low-cost hydro power when demand is high in Ontario and exporting wind power at night and in winter to allow them to store water for later use. This can make renewable energy more efficient and cost-effective for all three provinces.
Response: We need to stop looking backwards toward yesterday’s solutions and start looking forward to a low-carbon, high efficiency future. New technology is quickly making old solutions obsolete and a changing economy and environment require a flexible, responsive system, not more nuclear white elephants.