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The Ontario Sustainable Energy Association (OSEA) is disappointed to hear that the Ontario government decided to suspend the second round of its Large Renewable Procurement (LRP) program. While the program was certainly not the most effective in ensuring meaningful community participation and ownership opportunities, it was a program that allowed the province to move in the right direction as it pertains to meeting our climate change and emission reduction goals.
The decision plays into the misinformed belief that renewable energy generation is expensive and nuclear power is cheap. Earlier this year, when projects were awarded contracts under the first round of the large renewable procurement, renewable energy developers proved that their projects can come in at highly competitive rates, even below the advertised rate of nuclear refurbishments. And while the prices for renewables continue to drop, the total cost implications of nuclear refurbishment are not yet entirely known. What we do know is that no nuclear power project in Canada has come in on time or on budget.
This decision also stands in stark contrast to the government’s recently released Climate Change Action Plan that encourages the move towards a distributed energy system that is powered by renewable sources. This plan has led the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) to release two demand forecast scenarios that foresee an increase in electricity demand of up to 40% due to the introduction of electric cars and the push towards the use of electricity for our water and space-heating needs. (See IESO Demand Forecast) Considering that the IESO forecast, that was released earlier this month, still factors in the supply from the 1000 MW that was going to be brought online under the second round of LRP, how is this additional demand going to be satisfied?
It also begs the question why does the government continue to support a bulk electricity system when all the evidence shows that a decentralized energy system is more flexible, more efficient, less cost-intensive, and allows better engagement and involvement of the community?
By sticking to the bulk electricity system, our government risks stranded assets that we, our children and grandchildren will have to pay for decades to come. If the government was truly concerned about the costs of our energy system, it would take a long-term, integrated (heating, cooling, electricity and transportation) and systematic approach to energy planning and be transparent about the process. This is why OSEA and its members have been developing the Combined Energy Options Ontario proposal for the past year. The proposal is for a holistic study of Ontario’s energy system to develop a model and simulation that would allow us to understand how we can build a low-carbon, sustainable energy system in the most cost-effective, efficient, and socially responsible way.
While the news of the LRP suspension has certainly been discouraging, OSEA will continue to engage actively with the government on the development of the next long-term energy plan, championing the transition to a decentralized, integrated, inclusive and sustainable energy system that is built on portfolios of technological solutions that satisfy Ontario’s electricity, heating, cooling, and transportation needs and that puts the needs of Ontario’s communities first.