Bright lights and clean air for Ontario
Premier of Ontario
In 2003, Ontario’s electricity system was dangerously close to failure.
How did this happen?
Very simply, for years supply was going down while demand for electricity kept going up. During the previous eight years, as old equipment was shut down, Ontario lost 1,800 megawatts in generation. That’s the equivalent of Niagara Falls running dry.
Also troubling, we doubled our use of coal to generate our electricity. That meant polluting our air and harming our health every time we turned on the lights. Back then, there was no plan for conservation. And we had become net importers of electricity — relying on even more dirty coal from the United States.
Whose fault was it?
There’s lots of blame to go around. Governments of every political stripe knew the system was deteriorating and did nothing. By 2003, brownouts were a constant threat. The previous government’s plan was to use emergency diesel generators — again, a stopgap, dirty air solution.
The uncertainty of supply, and the absence of a long-term plan to rebuild, made our businesses nervous. International investors were also raising concerns.
That’s why our government acted. We developed a plan to build a modern, clean, reliable electricity system that creates jobs and powers a stronger economy. And, today, our electricity system is stronger.
Already, we’ve built enough new, cleaner generation to power 2 million Ontario homes. About a fifth of that comes from renewable sources like wind and solar. Today, 5,000 kilometres of transmission and distribution lines have been upgraded. And today, conservation programs are back and saving families money.
Together, we’re on track to close Ontario’s dirty coal plants. We’ve shut down eight units so far and two more will close in 2011. By 2014, coal will be completely eliminated in Ontario. That’s like taking 7 million cars off the road — or almost every car in Ontario.
We’re doing this because coal pollution is responsible for $3 billion in annual health-care costs, hospitalizations and respiratory illnesses, especially in our children. We’re avoiding those costs and protecting the health of Ontarians.
Our plan has led to a new, clean-energy industry that is creating thousands of jobs for Ontario families. Those are good jobs — making the wind, solar, hydroelectric and biomass energy that Ontario needs. And they are high-tech manufacturing jobs — building solar panels, wind turbines and other components for sale here at home and to the United States and around the world, where the demand for green energy keeps growing.
Today, Ontario is Canada’s leader in wind power with more than 700 turbines supplying enough electricity to power 350,000 homes. The Sarnia Solar Project, one of four solar farms in Ontario, is the largest operating solar farm in the world, creating 800 jobs during construction.
In partnership with the Moose Cree First Nation, we’ve also begun the Lower Mattagami project, the largest northern hydro project in 40 years. It will mean jobs for 800 people during its construction. And many more clean energy manufacturing plants are opening in communities like Toronto, Guelph, Windsor, Hamilton and Peterborough.
We’re also partnering with thousands of farmers, like John Sauve in Essex County. He grows corn, soybeans and wheat. And he recently installed a ground-mounted 10-kilowatt solar generator.
John is one of many thousands of farmers with solar panels or wind turbines in their fields. Our plan is providing these Ontario farmers with a new source of income, and they are providing Ontario with good food and clean energy. It’s a win-win.
Thanks to the hard work of skilled Ontarians, we became Number 1 in North America for building cars. Now, our goal is to become a powerhouse in clean energy technologies, too.
We know investing in this new plan isn’t cheap. Over the next 20 years, we will rebuild 70 per cent of our electricity system.
Our new system will give us reliable, clean power and thousands of jobs in an exciting new industry. And anyone who pretends they can do this without prices going up isn’t being honest with Ontarians.
On average, electricity prices for families and small businesses will go up 3.5 per cent a year during the next 20 years. For comparison, they went up 3.6 per cent a year during the past 20 years.
To help Ontarians manage these increases, we are proposing a Clean Energy Benefit which would take 10 per cent off electricity bills every month for families, farmers and small businesses.
Our energy plan is about more than the peace of mind that comes from knowing the lights will come on. It’s about a strong economy where businesses have the confidence to invest and create jobs for our families. And it’s about clean air for our children and grandchildren to breathe.
We can all take confidence in the fact that, together, we’re doing the right thing for right now — and for a stronger future.