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Meeting Ontario's Energy Challenge

Archived Backgrounder

Meeting Ontario's Energy Challenge

Office of the Premier

The McGuinty government is taking bold action to help make Ontario a North American leader in conservation and ensure a sustainable, reliable supply of electricity for Ontario's homes and businesses.

Many of our aging nuclear plants are nearing the end of service. Despite advances in clean, renewable energy, Ontario continues to rely on dirty sources of energy like coal.

Ontario now has about 30,500 megawatts of generation capacity. The province needs to construct, refurbish, rebuild, replace or conserve 25,000 megawatts worth of generating capacity by the year 2020. That's more than 80 per cent of Ontario's current electricity generating capacity.

Without a combination of increased generating capacity and significant conservation efforts, the province cannot meet its long-term energy needs. Chart: Ontario's Energy Crisis

Creating A Conservation Culture In Ontario

The McGuinty government is committed to working with Ontarians to create an energy conservation culture throughout the province. A variety of new measures will help individuals, families, institutions, government, businesses and communities play a role.

A Conservation Secretariat

A new Conservation Secretariat will lead Ontario's conservation efforts and be headed up by a Chief Conservation Officer, who will be accountable for engaging people and empowering all consumers to save energy. The Conservation Secretariat will also be charged with monitoring Ontario's progress in reducing overall demand.

Public Education And Outreach

The government will launch a public education and outreach campaign that will provide people with information they can use to make smart choices that save energy and money.

For instance, if each of Ontario's 4.5 million households replaced four 60-watt light bulbs with compact fluorescents, the energy savings would allow us to shut down one unit at a coal burning plant.

Town hall meetings, websites and other resources will be used to share energy-saving tips with Ontarians in every community.

Smart Meters

One of the challenges facing the province is meeting the high demand for energy during certain periods of the day -- such as during business hours when factories and offices are busy or right after work when most families are preparing supper. The electricity system can better meet these peak demands if electricity users put off other activities -- such as laundry and dishwashing -- until demand for electricity is lower.

Smart meters monitor not just how much electricity is used, but also when a household is using it. Together with more flexible pricing, this would allow Ontarians to save money if they run appliances in off-peak hours.

The McGuinty government is setting an aggressive target to put smart meters into every home by 2010, with an interim target of 800,000 meters in place by 2007.

Net Metering

Many organizations and individuals in Ontario have indicated that they would like to generate their own electricity using renewable sources such as wind and solar power, often producing more power than they need. Because they have no way of storing excess power, it is wasted. Net metering will enable homeowners and businesses generating renewable electricity to receive credit for the excess energy they produce.

By providing this financial incentive, not only will the province gain access to new sources of power, it will encourage more people to make investments in green technologies and contribute to sustainable development in Ontario.

Other Measures

Other measures the government is undertaking include:

Allowing local distribution companies to begin investing approximately $225 million for local, community-based conservation programs.

Creating incentives for local distribution companies and Hydro One to reduce expensive, wasteful "system loss" that can occur when transmitting electricity to consumers.

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Environment and Energy