"We can't conserve our way to a zero-emission future," said Lowry. "If we want to maximize the role energy conservation can play, there is one very powerful tool that needs to be used more effectively that's the price signal."
Lowry says the first step is to stop subsidizing consumer power prices.
He says subsidies are expensive and lead to higher energy consumption. In Ontario, the 2003 price freeze saw rates reduced to $1 billion below the actual price for power. Ontario taxpayers are also paying more than $900 million a year to service the remaining $19 billion stranded nuclear debt.
In Alberta household electricity consumption dropped by 10% in 2001 after prices rose in line with a spike in natural gas prices.
In addition to true cost pricing and government support will be required to cover the cost of new technologies that will be required to meet planned emissions targets.
"We are not going to get the investment in cleaner technologies for free.
They are expensive and unless we all step up to pay through higher prices, the race to develop new technologies will remain wishful thinking, or rhetoric rather than reality," said Lowry. "To build demonstration plants with next generation technologies, price hikes are needed to reflect the true cost of electricity and governments need to support early stage commercialization of emissions reduction technologies like CO(2) capture and sequestration."
EPCOR recently signed a licence agreement with Siemens AG to provide gasification technology for a proposed near-zero emission coal gasification project at its Genesee Generating Station. The proposed 270 (net) megawatt facility would be the first of its kind in the world. If subsequent investment and construction decisions go as planned, the plant would be targeted to commence operations in 2015. The project is expected to cost nearly $2 billion.