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IMO warns of power shortfalls

Boost capacity now - or else, report warns

Canadian Press - March 31, 2004
by Gillian Livingston


The agency that monitors Ontario's electricity system raised the alarm today about a "severe potential shortfall" of electricity over the next decade.

Ontario has to get more electricity supply online and do a heavy push for conservation to address the expected electricity shortfall, said the 10-year outlook released today by the province's Independent Electricity Market Operator.

The government's promise to close the province's five coal plants by 2007, uncertainties with the refurbishment of nuclear reactors at the Pickering nuclear station, and a lack of investment in new generation "all contribute to the potential shortfall," IMO president and CEO Dave Goulding said in a release.

By 2014, up to 11,600 megawatts of Ontario's electricity needs will have to be met with new supply, refurbished generation or conservation measures, Goulding said.

"Resources are required in every year of the next 10 years," he said.

Energy Minister Dwight Duncan said that by the middle of April the province will issue a call for proposals to build up to 2,500 megawatts of new electricity generating capacity by 2005, as well as 300 megawatts of renewable energy to be put in service as soon as possible.

Goulding said the province has taken the right action by moving to boost its electricity generating capacity.

The province has also taken its first steps toward conservation, and as of Thursday Ontario residents will be paying more for the electricity use.

The electricity price cap will rise to 4.7 cents per kilowatt-hour for the first 750 kilowatt-hours used per month, and will rise to 5.5 cents after that level. The previous cap was at 4.3 cents.

The warning came as Natural Resources Minister David Ramsay was set to announce Wednesday that the government will open up Crown land so companies can build wind farms and small water powered electricity plants there.

Ramsay said in a release that the move to open Crown lands to renewable energy producers will help the government increase its electricity capacity and reach its goal of having five per cent of the province's energy come from renewable energy sources by 2007.

Any interested groups will be able to apply to the government to build wind turbines and wind farms or water powered electricity generation stations on provincial land, he said.

The first wind turbines could be built by 2005.

The province will be able to handle the challenges that come with wind power, such as reliability and cost, said Duncan.

To deal with that "you build more capacity," he said. "The more you bring on the lower the price will be."

Wind power can cost between about eight to 11 cents per kilowatt hour, Duncan said. That's a bit higher than other types of energy such as water and nuclear.

The government believes there are more than enough companies out there interested in investing in renewable energies, such as wind.

Duncan said he has already met with between 10 to 20 large companies that are interested in wind power in the province.

The most viable wind farms on Crown land would be on the north shore of Lake Superior and offshore in the Great Lakes, Ramsay said. Wind turbines could also be located near Thunder Bay, Sault Ste. Marie, Windsor, Sarnia, Chatham-Kent, Hamilton and Belleville.

It's estimated that about 3,000 megawatts of wind power capacity could be developed on private and Crown land, Ramsay said.

New Democrat Marilyn Churley said opening up Crown land to wind farms is "a good move," but the problem is that for years some municipalities have prevented wind turbines from being built in their areas. To deal with that, the government has to take over that responsibility, she said.

Even if wind power costs more, "we've got to start paying the price for clean energy," she said. "If we're not, we're in great peril." "We need to invest in renewable power on an emergency, urgent basis."

In his report on the future of Ontario Power Generation, former deputy prime minister John Manley recommended the province let lands owned by the Crown corporation be available to private developers to build more electricity generating stations.

Manley's report also stressed that more electricity capacity has to be built quickly since the province is facing a possible shortage by 2007.



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