Long-Term Energy Plan is low-voltage, say energy professionals

TORONTO, Dec. 2, 2013 /CNW/ - In response to the provincial government's new Long-Term Energy Plan (LTEP), Ontario's energy professionals say the plan is a low-voltage announcement.

"The Society of Energy Professionals supports the government's decisions to continue with plans for nuclear refurbishment at Darlington and Bruce Power, maintain Pickering until 2020, and move forward with the conversion of the Thunder Bay Generating Station from coal to advanced biomass," said Scott Travers, president of the 8,000-member union that represents professional employees at public and private employers in Ontario's energy sector.

While those initiatives are positive, some of the news is not so rosy. Deferral of nuclear new build, while better than cancelling it entirely, represents a problematic approach to long-term planning in the energy sector.

"Nuclear reactors aren't built overnight so if we defer nuclear and need a quick fix later the only choice will be fossil fuel sources like gas," said Joe Fierro, Vice President of The Society of Energy Professionals' Ontario Power Generation Local. "The supply mix in the LTEP is more hopeful than pragmatic given that conservation programs continue to underperform existing targets. The LTEP also glosses over the need for wind and solar power to be backed up by stable and flexible energy sources like gas that will, unlike nuclear, increase Ontario's greenhouse gas emissions."

Wind and solar will increase their share of the total energy production by 7% in the LTEP. Given the unreliable nature of wind and solar, an equal amount of stable forms of power must be generated, whether through hydroelectric or greenhouse gas-emitting sources such as gas. Due to this reality, it is unclear that there are sufficient quantities of stable power included in total production to backstop the increase in renewables.

"Energy decisions should be made by experts based on all available evidence," said Travers. "The best venue for decisions on the energy supply mix, among other issues, is the Ontario Energy Board. Only at the OEB can core assumptions of the LTEP be tested, such as cost effectiveness and forecasting dramatically increased levels of conservation."

The Society of Energy Professionals' submission to the LTEP public consultation process is available here.

The Society of Energy Professionals represents 8,000 knowledge workers and supervisors employed by 13 employers that are responsible for the generation, transmission and regulation of energy in Ontario in both the broader public and private sectors.

SOURCE The Society of Energy Professionals

For further information:

Scott Travers, President, Society of Energy Professionals: (416) 729-8818, traverss@thesociety.ca

Adam Chaleff-Freudenthaler, Communications Officer, Society of Energy Professionals: (647) 500-2394, adam@thesociety.ca