Energy Minister directs OPA to review renewable and conservation potential

The Energy Minister of Ontario, George Smitherman, has issued a directive to the Ontario Power Authority to review the potential for renewables and conservation in the Integrated Power System Plan that is before the Ontario Energy Board for review. 

In particular, the following is to be reviewed:

The amount and diversity of renewable energy sources in the supply mix.

The viability of accelerating conservation goals.

Improving transmission to transmission constrained parts of the province.

Increasing the amount of pumped storage available.

The Energy Minister is asking for this review due to research done by the Ministry in other jurisdictions, including Germany and Spain, and California.


I see this as a sign of hope, that perhaps the political leaders are catching on.  The Integrated Power System Plan calls for a substantial expansion of renewables, but over 20 years.  Other jurisdictions have installed renewables far faster than the plan calls for, with the right policy framework. 


I think that the rapid expansion of renewables and conservation is even more important than a 20 year target.  After all, what is the consequence if we are too successful?  We simply will burn less coal and less natural gas, saving fuel cost, improving health, and reducing emissions.  And what is wrong with that?


So far, the Ontario Power Authority has a dismal record on deploying renewables, falling as much as 64% behind the 2007 target of 1350 MW of new supply.  This is the critical issue. 


Accelerate deployment.  Buy all that is available – don’t let viable projects wither because of lack of contracts.  Don’t let good conservation initiatives be stymied by lack of funding.  Do it, do it fast, and we will learn as we go how to integrate it.  Other jurisdictions have done it.  It is time for Ontario to do it too.


Good for Smitherman.  The advice he has been receiving from electricity planner so far has woefully underestimated the potential.   And they have underdelivered.

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