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Remarks By Dalton McGuinty, Premier Of Ontario On Building A Culture Of Conservation Statement to the Legislative Assembly

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Remarks By Dalton McGuinty, Premier Of Ontario On Building A Culture Of Conservation Statement to the Legislative Assembly

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Office of the Premier

Mr. Speaker:

For most of our history, Ontarians have enjoyed an abundant supply of cheap, reliable energy.

All the power we wanted was right at our fingertips & at the flick of a switch.

Today, we can no longer take our energy supply for granted.

If we don't act soon & we will face an energy crisis.

Our province is growing, with more homes and businesses being built every day.

Our high-tech economy is thriving, meaning that our industries, our homes, our hospitals and our schools all need more electricity than ever before.

But at the same time, our ability to produce power is falling behind.

Many of our 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.

Mr. Speaker, Ontario cannot grow a strong, 21st century economy by relying on obsolete sources of energy.

That's why our government is committed to replacing the dirty coal plants that are polluting our air and damaging our health.

After all, Mr. Speaker, one coal-fired unit at Nanticoke emits as much pollution as 160,000 cars. The eight-unit Nanticoke facility represents the equivalent of the exhausts of 1.3 million cars.

Replacing coal is the kind of real, positive, overdue change that our government ran on, and Ontarians voted for.

Unfortunately, Mr. Speaker, previous governments failed to plan ahead.

As our energy reserves shrank, so too did the political will to do anything about the problem.

Because previous governments failed to act, we're faced with an enormous challenge.

We will need to refurbish, rebuild, replace or conserve 25,000 megawatts worth of generating capacity by the year 2020.

To put that in perspective -- that's more than 80 per cent of Ontario's current electricity generating capacity.

To meet these goals through increased generation alone, we would need generation capacity about 11 times the size of Niagara Falls.

Mr. Speaker, our government has already announced plans to put 2,500 megawatts of generation capacity and demand management initiatives in place no later than 2007.

And there's more on the way.

But, clearly, producing more electricity is only part of the answer.

We also have to slow the endless spiral of increasing demand.

It's simply not sustainable.

So we're asking Ontarians to stop the spiral of demand -- and we will give Ontarians the information and tools they need to save money on their bills, as they save electricity.

When it comes to electricity, Mr. Speaker, it's much cheaper for our province to conserve it, than to generate it ... and it's much cheaper for our consumers to save it than to pay more for it.

Some other jurisdictions have aggressively pursued conservation -- but this province hasn't been as aggressive as it should have been, and that has wasted time and money and electricity.

California, for example, has conserved to the point that the average per-capita consumption of electricity there has increased only one per cent since 1975.

Here in Ontario, it's up 25 per cent.

There are steps that we can all take right now.

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.

Compact fluorescent bulbs seem more expensive on the store shelves, but because they last years longer, and use up to 75 per cent less energy than conventional bulbs, they can save you four times what they cost.

People with electric water heaters can save between 200 and 1,400 kilowatt-hours per year simply by fixing leaky taps, insulating their water heaters and switching to more efficient showerheads.

Real gains can be made by doing things as simple as turning off the light or TV or stereo when you leave the room, unplugging appliances when you're not using them, or not using that large, mostly empty freezer, you might have sitting in the basement.

That old, inefficient beer fridge in the basement may seem like your best friend at playoff time -- but every time you open the door it's "pay-up time," because that fridge can be costing you about $150 a year in extra electricity -- electricity we can't afford to waste.

There is so much we all can do:

  • Taking a five-minute shower instead of a bath uses half as much energy.
  • Turning down the water heater when you're away, and turning it down a few degrees all the time, can pay big dividends.
  • Setting the fridge at cool -- instead of almost-frozen -- and turn down your furnace, even a few degrees, at night, when you're under the covers.
  • Keeping appliances clean so they're efficient -- the coils on the back of the fridge, the lint screen in the dryer, the air filter on your furnace and air conditioner all need regular cleaning.

You can also get an energy audit for your home. These audits provide specific steps you can take that could reduce their energy bills by up to one-third.

These are the kinds of steps we're asking Ontarians to take.

In return, our government will make it possible for Ontarians in every home, business and government office to save energy, save their hard-earned money and save our environment.

Our government is taking bold action to help make Ontario a North American leader in conservation.

Mr. Speaker, I'm not talking about approaches that have been used in the past & such as introducing a few government programs or printing glossy brochures.

I am talking about nothing less than creating a profound shift in the culture of this province.

About moving from a culture of inefficiency to a culture of innovation.

About moving from a culture of waste to a culture of conservation.

Our plan will give consumers, businesses, utilities and government the tools they need to use less energy -- and use energy more wisely.

Together we will make a real change in the way we use energy in this province.

Our government's goal is ambitious: to reduce electricity use by five per cent across the province by 2007.

But our government will also do our part.

In fact, we will hold ourselves to an even higher standard.

We will cut electricity consumption in all government operations by 10 per cent over the same period.

To help reach those targets, Minister Duncan has already announced the creation of a Conservation Secretariat, headed by a Chief Conservation Officer.

Our government has also appointed MPP Donna Cansfield to lead the Conservation Action Team, which will promote our conservation initiatives for the province.

We will provide the leadership that creates opportunities for savings, but it's up to Ontarians -- from all walks of life -- to make good decisions about how they use energy.

Right now, most customers don't get a break on their bill if they use energy during off-peak hours, when demand is lower.

That's because old-fashioned energy meters only record how much energy is being used, not when it is being used.

Smart meters, together with more flexible pricing, would allow Ontarians to save money if they run appliances in off-peak hours.

That's why we will direct the Ontario Energy Board to develop a plan to install a smart electricity meter in 800,000 Ontario homes by 2007 & and in each and every Ontario home by 2010.

Mr. Speaker, we will also expand and encourage the practice of net metering.

Net metering will enable homeowners and businesses generating renewable electricity to receive credit for the excess energy they produce.

This will provide additional electricity supply from clean, renewable sources such as wind and solar power.

And we will launch provincewide consultations to allow people to participate directly in Ontario's new culture of conservation.

Leading the way in this new culture of conservation will be our young people.

We will ensure that our primary and secondary school students have the resources they need to learn about conservation.

After all, the decisions we make today will have a tremendous impact on the future they inherit.

That future is already beginning to look brighter, Mr. Speaker.

Innovative steps like smart meters and net metering are already being used in our province.

Net metering is already an option in some Ontario communities.

Milton Hydro is already pressing ahead with its own smart metering project.

Our plan will see pockets of innovation like these expand across the province in a few short years -- allowing more Ontarians to see real savings.

But the benefits of a culture of conservation go beyond what people will see on their monthly bills.

A culture of conservation will help Ontario build a high-skills, high-tech, high-performance economy by rewarding and encouraging innovation.

This, in turn, will help stimulate investment, create jobs and build a stronger, more sustainable economy.

And an economy we can be proud of.

Mr. Speaker, there can be no doubt that Ontario faces a real challenge in meeting its energy needs, but our government is seizing the opportunity to promote a genuine conservation culture -- in communities, businesses and homes.

We will also engage local distribution companies, the private sector and community organizations.

Together, we can make Ontario a leader in energy efficiency.

Together, we can help create more jobs in an innovative economy, ensure stronger communities and provide cleaner air to breathe.

A culture of conservation will ensure that Ontario has an electricity supply that is the envy of our competitors -- and a magnet for our investors.

An Ontario where consumers have both the stability they want -- and the reliability they demand and deserve.

An Ontario where the energy that comes through the wires stimulates the energy that makes us great -- the energy that stimulates our growth as an economy and a society: the innovation of our businesses, the success of our schools, the compassion that marks our health care system, the cleanliness of the air we breathe and the water we drink.

An Ontario with a standard of living -- and a quality of life -- that are second to none.

That Ontario, Mr. Speaker, is ours to deliver.

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