Doing more with less

Categories: Analysis
Published on: November 11, 2014

Ontario Clean Air Alliance / 10 November 2014

Ontario electrical demandFirst the good news: Demand for electricity has been steadily falling in Ontario since 2005 despite a growing economy.

The province is now producing 21% more goods and services for every kilowatt hour of electricity consumed than it was in 2005. Since the depths of the 2008-09 recession our economy has steadily recovered while electricity demand has remained largely flat. Better technology such as LED lighting, computerized pumps and motors that adjust to workloads, and more efficient computer data centres are examples of the technologies driving this trend.

But there is bad news: Ontario continues to under invest in this low cost source of energy and remains fixated on spending tens of billions of dollars to re-build increasingly unnecessary nuclear reactors. For every dollar the province has budgeted for energy conservation efforts in the next six years, it plans to spend at least $5.40 on re-building the Darlington Nuclear Station.

The wisdom of spending a whopping 5.4 times more on Darlington is even harder to grasp when you consider that the Ontario Power Authority acknowledges that we can buy conservation kilowatt hours (kWh) for 2 to 4 cents compared to OPG’s “high-confidence” estimate for Darlington of 8.9 cents per kWh. Of course, given that every nuclear project in Ontario’s history has run massively over budget, the difference could be more like 13 times greater spending on Darlington than on improving energy efficiency when the real re-build bills are all in.

The Ontario government has made a worthy commitment to putting Conservation First. But money talks, and throwing billions of dollars at aging nuclear reactors while under spending on efficiency improvements says volumes about how much Ontario is still stuck in the past. Given that our economy will be far further ahead with greater efficiency than with high-cost, high risk nuclear power, we need to turn this spending around and get our province moving toward a high-efficiency future.

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