April 8, 2010

Ontario approves 184 green energy projects

CANADA/ENVIRONMENT - 184 new solar, wind and water "clean energy" projects will be up and running by 2012. They received the green light today. The renewable energy projects will supply almost 2,500 megawatts of power, enough for 600,000 homes.

The Ontario governments is bombarded by new private energy proposals every year, but there isn't enough infrastructure spending to upgrade the grid for the 10,000 megawatts worth of proposals. In theory if Ontario had more money allocated for improving the electricity grid's infrastructure it could approve more private energy.

What is Private Energy?

Private Energy is whenever a person or a company decides they want to sell electricity back into the grid. In some cases this can be pretty small, a homeowner with 10+ solar panels on their roof, or it could be big like a major corporation building a hundred or so wind turbines. They're privately owned by the people, but the trick is actually attaching them to the electricity grid so the electricity can be tracked and distributed.

Ontario's electricity grid (and this is the problem faced the world over) has only in the last decade or so began the process of being able to take electricity from many multiple sources and then distributed it.

Ontario's Subsidized Electricity Prices

Right now Ontario Hydro isn't even profitable. Not even remotely. The cost of making electricity is over 13 cents per Kwh, but because that is pretty expensive its actually sold to consumers at a rate of approx. 6.5 cents per Kwh.

Thus Ontario Hydro is taking huge losses every year, mostly due to overpaid workers at nuclear facilities like BNPD. Paying exactly 13 cents per Kwh to private producers of electricity is a step forward because that price is locked in. Unlike workers who can strike, demand wage increases and have pensions to worry about... over the long term Ontario actually saves money by buying the electricity from private producers who can guarantee a specific price per Kwh.

The one-time upgrade to the power grid is a worthy investment for the future, especially since Ontario's thirsty for electricity keeps growing. What we need to be therefore is increasing the rate at which we upgrade the system. We could be building twice to four times the upgrades / year, dramatically speeding up the rate at which we switch to reliable pricing and renewable energy.

Furthermore once upgrades are in place it allows existing projects to expand their output, without the need for additional upgrades.

Subsidized electricity prices aren't going to disappear. We subsidize oil and gas prices too, in order to keep prices low and the economy humming. Its all eventually paid for in taxes.

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