How the Ontario Electricity Experience is Informative to Alberta
“What happened in Ontario . . . provide(s) universal lessons regarding how a simple, appealing, but unrealistic idea can intersect with the political process and set in motion environmental policies that run counter to the underlying costs and complexity of the electric power sector.”
Global consulting firm IHS-CERA, “Too Much, Too Fast — the Pace of Greening the Ontario Power System.”
Ontario’s actions to accelerate the closure of coal-fired electricity generation and the resulting increase in electricity prices for consumers should be a warning for Alberta.
It’s not responsible to ignore electricity cost impacts when addressing environmental objectives.
A balanced approach is the right approach.
In the mid-2000s, the Ontario government delayed plans to eliminate coal from the province’s fuel mix. It then was forced to acknowledge that the government was “too ambitious” in its original 2007 goal.
It was only in April 2014 that the province’s last coal-fired generating station closed its doors.
Nuclear generation has played a pivotal role in helping the province of Ontario meet its target to close coal plants on a timeline. (source: “Clean Air Ontario”, by Bruce Power and the Asthma Society of Canada.) Ontario is home to all but one of Canada’s 19 currently operating nuclear power reactors.
Alberta has no nuclear power in which to rely on to supply the electricity base load for this province (base load is the more or less constant part of the total load on an electrical power-supply system). Wind and solar cannot replace base load generation because they are highly variable. In Alberta, coal supplies the base load for electricity.
Transition requires careful consideration and provisions to ensure uninterrupted and reliable power as well as steady and reliable pricing.