In September, Minister Smitherman directed the Ontario Power Authority (OPA) to enhance its targets for renewable energy, conservation and distributed energy.
"We are thrilled that Minister Smitherman wants more green energy in the electricity plan. This report sets out how much more green we should aim for, the policies that will get it, and what proposed investments need to be trimmed back to make space for it," says Cherise Burda, Ontario Policy Director with the Pembina Institute and author of the report.
The Pembina Institute report, Plugging Ontario Into A Green Future, shows that reducing unnecessary energy waste, switching to renewable energy, and recycling waste heat from industrial and commercial operations can provide enough baseload electricity to replace the ageing Pickering B and Bruce B nuclear stations as they reach the end of their lives and are shut down beginning in 2013.
The study comes on the heels of a poll that shows two thirds of Ontarians would prefer to see retiring nuclear reactors replaced with renewable energy sources like wind, solar and hydro power rather than by building new reactors.
"Ontarians want more green power and less nuclear power. A decision to replace the Pickering B nuclear station would set Ontario on the path to becoming a leader in the global green energy market," says Shawn-Patrick Stensil, an energy campaigner with Greenpeace. "The question is whether the OPA can review this plan with new eyes and an open mind - if not, we are headed for more of the same."
The decision on what to do with Pickering B will be made in early 2009.
"Greening the electricity plan will ensure lower energy bills for consumers as well as faster and surer greenhouse gas reductions for the planet," says Keith Stewart, Climate Change Campaign Manager with WWF-Canada. "Greening our infrastructure as we renew it will create jobs while reducing fuel and energy imports to Ontario."
Internationally, the growth of renewables is outpacing forecasts and creating millions of new jobs. In 2007, more than $100 billion was invested in new renewable energy capacity, manufacturing and R&D globally, and renewable electricity generation capacity increased 50 percent over 2004. In the U.S., the renewables and energy efficiency industries generated 8.5 million jobs, over $900 billion in revenue and more than $100 billion in industry profits in 2006 while providing an important stimulus to the lagging U.S. manufacturing sector.
"The green solutions offered in Plugging Ontario Into A Green Future are available, cost-effective and quick to deploy," says Mark Lutes of the David Suzuki Foundation. "They are a safer, less costly option to refurbishing old reactors or building new ones. This report shows what a modern, decentralized system could look like in Ontario, and identifies the environmental and prosperity benefits associated with the shift to clean energy."
The Pembina report is based on evidence and expert testimony submitted to the Ontario Energy Board hearings on the Integrated Power System Plan, which are currently on hold, pending the completion of the Green Energy Review mandated by Minister Smitherman. The OPA must report back to the Ontario Energy Board on the scope of the changes they plan to make by the end of November 2008 and file the revised plan in March 2009, at which point the hearings will resume.