The lack of dependability of Torontos future electricity supply was confirmed by the recently appointed Ontario Minister of Energy Donna Cansfield at a Canadian Urban Institute breakfast presentation on Friday. The Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) which operates the electrical power system in Ontario has informed the Minister that by extrapolating current usage patterns electricity demand will exceed supply by 2008. While the Toronto area demand for electricity is approximately 4,000 Megawatts, she indicated that “250 Megawatts of additional supply is need by 2008 and 600 Megawatts is required by 2010.”
The Minister explained that “transmission lines into the city are near capacity so importing electricity from outside the Province (for Toronto) is no longer an option.” It is not realistic to expect additional transmission capacity by 2010 because of the complexity of the process for adding new lines.
In response the Minister said there is a need for both ‘increase capacity and to mitigate demand for electricity” in Toronto. In the near future, she intends to direct the Ontario Power Authority to find ways to reduce electricity consumption by a minimum of 200 Megawatts. She expects energy conservation to make a major impact on meeting Toronto’s electricity needs.
The Ministry of Energy is also working with the City of the Toronto, Ontario Power Authority and community groups to find the best and most cost effective way to create more generating capacity. By working collectively the Minister is attempting to avoid the NIMBYism that can prevent important projects from proceeding.
She explained that while New York City generates 75% of its electricity within its borders, Toronto generates almost none. Projects under consideration are the Portlands Energy Centre, a 550-megawatt natural gas generation station on the site of the old Hearn generating station, a project that has been effectively halted by community opposition. There is an off-shore wind turbine project that is currently undergoing a feasibility study and the Ministry remains open for proposals for additional generating capacity within the city’s borders.
Cansfield reiterated the Liberal governments assertion that previous governments neglected electricity supply and demand issues. “Over the 1990s electricity demand in Ontario grew by 8.5% but its (generating) capacity fell by 6%. “ The Minister outlined a multi-pronged approach to solving the problem with short and long term supply initiatives as well as a robust conservation program.
In the short-term Ontario has taken several steps including an initiative to produce 9 MW of renewable energy in Ontario more than any other jurisdiction in North America, and enough for 1 million homes. The Province plans for renewables to provide 5% of energy sources by 2007 and 7% by 2010.
In 2005 to address the long-term electricity supply requirements the Province asked the Ontario Power Authority to report on the long-term electricity generating supply mix. The report, incorporating a controversial recommendation to replace all existing nuclear generating plants will provide the framework for a public consultation.
A corner stone to the Ministers plan for Ontario’s energy future is based on energy conservation. The Minister described the goal of the initiative is a “profound societal shift to create a culture of conservation”. The goal for the conservation program is to reduce Ontario’s peak demand for electricity by 5% by 2007.