Green Party of Ontario Leader Mike Schreiner on Rising Energy Prices

Dear CARP members,

It’s time to flip the switch on the debate about rising electricity prices.

Since the cheapest (and greenest) kilowatt is the one never generated, it makes sense to focus discussion on the best way to save energy. The current political rhetoric around the price of green energy leaves out the fact that there is a high cost of for all new sources of energy.

Regardless of what pundits and politicians may say, energy prices will continue to rise.  Just like road repairs on old highways are needed to keep your car moving, Ontario has to spend money to repair our old grid to keep your electricity moving. We also need to replace worn out nuclear facilities and dirty coal plants. Replacing these facilities costs money whether the new power comes from renewables, nuclear, natural gas or coal.

It makes sense that helping people save money by saving energy should be our top priority. At a cost of 2.3 – 4.6 cents/kWh, investing in energy efficiency and conservation provides the best bang for our buck. By comparison, the lowest amount we now pay for electricity generation is around 5 cents/kWh. The cost of new sources are much higher.

Why then are there few headlines about reducing demand for electricity?  Where are the mainstream journalists and politicians demanding investments in energy efficiency?  The silence is deafening and may cost Ontario a fortune in the future.

We have huge untapped potential to conserve energy. I’m sure many Ontario households are like mine, with ipods, blackberries, computers, TVs and other kinds of electronic appliances.  This is similar to folks around the world. Take New York State for example, where citizens have lots of gadgets and don’t freeze in the dark. New York has similar geography and climate to Ontario, yet our energy consumption per person is 50% higher. Clearly, we have opportunity to reduce demand.

The only way to deliver long-term sustainable savings in the face of rising energy prices is to eliminate waste and maximize efficiency. Let’s prioritize saving energy, and then talk about the best sources of energy for a prosperous and sustainable future.

It’s time to demand a new debate on energy policy in Ontario.

–Mike Schreiner
Leader, Green Party of Ontario