CIBC Report suggests electricity prices will double with coal plant
TORONTO, July 30 /CNW/ - A new CIBC World Markets report supports what
the Power Workers' Union (PWU) has been saying to the provincial government
and the Ontario Power Authority (OPA) for years: the closure of Ontario's coal
plants will lead to higher electricity prices for consumers and businesses.
Since making the 2003 election campaign promise to close the coal plants,
the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) and the OPA have continued
to raise concerns about the significant risks to electricity reliability and
price. Now another independent review has reached the same conclusion.
"Successive IESO and OPA documents and recent speeches show these risks
have not gone away but are actually worse," says Don MacKinnon, President of
Key risks include: uncertainties about load growth forecasts and what
realistic contributions can be expected from conservation and demand
management (CDM); how volatile natural gas prices will affect electricity
prices; the need for more gas pipeline infrastructure to service new
gas-fuelled generators; the costs of redesigning and building new transmission
and distribution infrastructure to integrate natural gas and renewable
generation from wind farms; and, the need to have a back-up plan if
replacement generation is not in place.
"Yet the government continues to ignore this critical information and
tells the OPA to make it work in spite of these risks. They put the OPA in an
ideological straight-jacket," added MacKinnon. "There's a low probability
replacement generation will be on time. Consumers will also pay a high premium
price given the rush to have it operating at a time when Ontario must replace
thousands of megawatts of ageing generation and major transmission
Ontario needs a better energy plan to ensure consumers and businesses
will continue to have secure, safe, reliable, and affordable electricity as
well as a better environment. It starts with a diverse energy base that
includes nuclear, hydroelectric, and clean coal generation. With this base in
place, prudent investments can then be made in CDM, renewable energy and a
"smart natural gas" strategy that mitigate the negative impacts on consumers.
"While the IESO is studying the potential impact of coal plant closures,
the Government is blindly moving forward with a regulation that closes these
plants by 2014," continued MacKinnon. "Our neighbour, New York gets it -
they've identified increased reliance on natural gas generation as one of the
biggest problems facing their electricity system."
World-wide, more than a 1000 new coal stations will be built by 2030,
driven by coal's availability and low price. Here in Canada, Alberta and
Saskatchewan have plans to build new coal stations. As well, the federal
government and provinces such as Alberta are sponsoring Canada's own Clean
Coal Technology Roadmap which will do a lot more to reduce smog-causing and
global greenhouse gas emissions than Ontario's decision to ignore the problem.
"As a first step, Ontario should retrofit the province's coal stations
with proven, clean coal technologies to reduce smog-causing emissions and
upgrade equipment and expedite biomass co-firing to reduce greenhouse gases,"
suggests MacKinnon. "We also need to look to the future and take advantage of
these existing sites, Canada's vast, secure coal supplies and new R & D
advances, to build the next generation of zero emission coal-fuelled
Germany and Denmark, in spite of significant investments in renewable
energy, remain committed to coal and other fuels, for their electricity
supplies. As a result, they've invested in clean coal technologies and are
using more biomass co-firing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Test burns
with wheat shorts undertaken by Ontario Power Generation at the Nanticoke
Station show that these approaches work.
"Ontario needs to grab hold of these opportunities and work with our
federal government to become a world leader in clean coal technology. This is
the best way to ensure Ontarians continue to have affordable and reliable
electricity and also achieve energy security necessary to maintain economic
competitiveness and our high standard of living," concludes MacKinnon.
For more information on the PWU's Better Energy Plan, please go to
www.abetterenergyplan.ca. The Power Workers' Union is the largest electricity
union in Ontario, representing employees in electricity generation,
transmission, distribution, regulations, and research and development.
For further information: Tonique Harry, Media Profile, (416) 504-8464,