Ontario moves to boost use of
Capacity almost Darlington-size
Critics claim plan too slow coming
By John Spears
The Toronto Star
Ontario will add 3,000 megawatts of renewable energy generating
capacity by 2014, says the province's commissioner of
alternative energy, Steve Gilchrist. This is almost the
equivalent of the Darlington nuclear generating station.
The announcement was welcomed by wind and water generators,
who said it will provide them a steady market and a means
of financing new projects.
But opposition politicians scoffed at the plan, which
they said means the province will have to continue to
operate dirty coal-burning generators for another decade.
Gilchrist said that starting in 2006 the province will
get an additional 1 per cent of its energy needs from
renewable sources each year for eight years. The 3,000
megawatts this will add to the province's portfolio will
displace power generated by burning coal, which pollutes
Theoretically, Ontario has about 30,000 megawatts of
generating capacity, but when the province was using 25,000
megawatts of power on the hottest day last week, it had
to import up to 3,800 megawatts.
Renewable sources include wind, solar, water, biomass,
geothermal and gas captured from landfill sites. Incinerating
garbage does not qualify as a renewable energy source,
said Dan Miles, a spokesperson for Energy Minister John
The problem with renewable energy sources is that they're
more expensive than conventional generators.
To secure the power, Ontario Electricity Financial Corp.,
or OEFC, will ask renewable generators to bid for the
amount of electricity targeted for renewables each year.
If the lowest bids by the renewable generators average,
say, 8 cents a kilowatt hour while the market price is
6 cents a kilowatt hour, OEFC will cover the difference
to make the renewables competitive.
OEFC, which holds the debt left over by the old Ontario
Hydro, is owned by taxpayers.
Gilchrist wouldn't estimate how much financing the gap
would cost in total, but said consumers might pay an extra
50 cents a month on their power bills as the new power
sources start to phase in, rising to perhaps $1.50 more
a month by 2014.
Liberal MPP Jim Bradley dismissed the announcement as
a "deathbed conversion" for the Conservatives
after years of inaction on renewable energy.
"We're going to see coal being burned until 2015
because they didn't set an ambitious target," said
Bradley (St. Catharines).
The New Democratic Party, for its part, would set a much
more aggressive target for adding renewable generation,
said MPP Marilyn Churley (Toronto-Danforth).
She added that the party would eliminate coal-burning
generators by 2007.
But wind power generators were happy.
Mike Crawley of AIM PowerGen Corp., which is developing
a wind farm on the north shore of Lake Erie, said the
news "will certainly accelerate the development of
Wind farms have high up-front costs that require financing,
"The single biggest question you have to answer
is: Who's going to buy your power?" he said.
The government's announcement answers the question and
makes financing easier, Crawley said.