Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Energy Minister vs. Neanderthals

I think I like this guy! I'd like him even better if he said, "And no more gas burners either! Renewables - especially nuclear - only."

Coal power plants out, energy minister says

TORONTO -- Ontario has no plans to listen to "Neanderthals" who want the province to keep its coal-burning power plants operating, even if that's what a report being prepared for the government recommends, says Energy Minister Dwight Duncan.

Duncan offered an emphatic "no" when asked whether he'd be willing to revisit the Liberal government's promise to stop burning coal for electricity even if the Ontario Power Authority calls for exactly that in a report expected in December.

"We are moving to close the coal plants, period, full stop," Duncan said.

More than 80 per cent of the province's power generation needs to be rebuilt or replaced over the next 20 years. The OPA has been meeting with energy industry stakeholders to determine what sources of new power generation the province should invest in.

Ontario is powered 49 per cent by nuclear reactors. Twenty-five per cent is supplied by hydro, 17 per cent by coal, seven per cent by gas and the remainder from wind and other alternative energy sources.

Duncan has said the government will agree to build new nuclear reactors should the OPA recommend it. But he says those lobbying the authority to recommend so-called cleaner coal technology and keeping the plants open are a century behind the times.

"I say to the Neanderthals . . . we're moving forward responsibly to ensure that we clean up our air," Duncan said. "We're in the 21st century. They're in the 19th century."

Air pollution remains a key concern in Ontario. Fifty smog advisories have been issued for the province this year, including a rare October advisory issued last week.

"I am sick and tired of having smog days in October," he said. "We had a smog day in February. We've had smog days in Algonquin Park."

He's also unimpressed with a report by Energy Probe, a national energy and environmental research group, which last week listed two Ontario coal-fired plants as among the cleanest in North America.

"So we may have among some of the better of the worst forms of energy producers in North America. Who cares?" Duncan said. "We want to get rid of them. It's the equivalent of taking every vehicle, every car and every light truck off the road in this province."

Duncan's resistance to coal is a mistake, argues Energy Probe executive director Tom Adams.

Adams wants the province to keep at least two units at its Lambton station at Courtright, which rank fourth and ninth out of 403 in the report's list of the cleanest plants on the continent.

Adams argues closing the units would end up requiring the province to import coal-fired power from the United States.


James said...

There is a lot of information on this topic on the Ontario hydro electricity prices page.

Steve said...

Thanks James.

I looked at all the stories you listed that contained the word "coal" in the title, but only one of them was available. I understand the desire of media companies to increase their revenue, but I'm not in a position to start paying ten buck to read an archived article.

I think I get the drift though. It's going to be expensive to get rid of coal, and it's not likely to be possible to do so on schedule.

Sounds a bit like the Germans and their desire to get rid of their nukes.

I am very worried about energy in the relatively short term. I am so worried that I wonder if the long term will get here for us, or if we'll wind up wishing it hadn't.

What's your take on things? Are you against getting rid of the coal because it will be expensive for tenants and others, in favor for environmental reasons, or something else?

James said...

I found this very interest article on how Energy Probe worked with the Harris government in Ontario to try to privatize the whole electricity system.

Steve said...

So how have things gone up there in the last 4 years or so? I haven't been paying attention.

Down here in Arizona I have not heard any noises about privatizing co-ops and such.

So-called deregulation hasn't made it down to the residential consumer after all this time, although traders seem to be making money (but not wanting to invest any of it in upgrading the transmission infrastructure, of course.)