Friday, July 14, 2006

Bill Carroll and His Energy Rant

According to Bill Carroll of CFRB, a study claims that we can only save 10% by 2025 if we all conserve energy, doing things like changing lightbulbs to compact flourescents and turning our AC up to 26 C. I find that hard to believe for the simple reason that, although I'd already was careful in the way I used hydro, by changing some of my bulbs and turning off the computer at night, I saved 10%. It's not 2025 last time I checked. Now I don't have central air, and I use my AC judiciously, but I can also keep my house cool by smart use of fans and open windows and closed curtains. Imagine then if I could save so much, how much more energy hogs would save?

Carroll's point of 26 C being too high is a good one -- that's far too warm to be able to bake or cook or to sleep comfortably. And his point that the provincial government was negligent in closing generating stations when power demands continue to increase, thereby forcing them to buy dirty power from the States at higher prices, is also bang on. However, conservation still has a place in helping us with our energy crunch. And it doesn't have to be inconvenient and sweaty in order to be effective, that study notwithstanding. (I didn't hear him say who did the study.) The payoff isn't just on the individual end with smaller bills but also in aggregate as the savings accumulate across the grid. Furthermore, conservation ought to be extended to the office buildings and businesses that freeze everyone out and deceive the birds at night. Turning off the lights and turning up the thermostat -- now that would be effective.

3 comments:

Classic said...

_I'd like to know how far back the overall Ont. Hydro debt flows from. My senior aged parents' generation almost never conserved (or recycled, for that matter).
_Forget 2025, we're still paying for 1975, 1985, & 1995. Raise the rates!

Mark Dowling said...

The 10% refers to total energy use in Ont. - given that 100k people immigrate to the GTA each year it means ongoing conservation efforts are essentially just helping absorb population increases.

In some cases it would be good for electricity use to increase. Subway extensions and portland LRT lines in Toronto for instance will increase electricity use by TTC. Electrification of the GO trains is something that could be considered down the road.

What I would like to see is a study breaking down energy consumption in the province between industrial, residential, commercial and governmental so we can see which sectors are particularly electricity intensive. It could be that even massive conservation in residential will be swamped by increases in industrial or commercial use.

talk talk talk said...

Classic, the big debt came from building the nuclear power stations. Because they didn't meet target schedules and had cost over-runs, their final cost skyrocketed from what was budgeted. Skeptics are concerned that, despite assurances to the contrary, the same thing will happen when they build the new nuclear plants. I'm pretty sure these plants will be built because they're the only ones that can meet future energy demands, particularly since the population is expected to grow in the GTA. About 25% of all immigrants to Canada come to the Toronto area.

I've heard many calling for raising the rates, but aside from the howls from consumers, it would seriously impair the competitiveness of some sectors, like forestry and auto manufacturing, from what I've heard.

IMHO, if they're going to raise the rates and want to encourage conservation, I think they should make the difference in the rates much greater. Keep the rate for the first 600 kWh (personally, 750 is more doable) the same, and dramatically increase the second rate. Do the same for industries, but at cut-off levels more appropo for them.

Mark, thank you for the explanation! I agree with you about the TTC and GO increasing energy use because theoretically that might mean less smog or congested traffic. We also have a serious problem with commuting times, highlighting just how far behind our transit growth is in relation to population growth. I still dream of TGV-type trains in the Quebec-Windsor corridor.

That would be a good study to see. I'm sure one has been done...you'd think! Your last point is a good one -- I doubt few residents waste energy using AC the way so many retail businesses and office buildings do. The province has to talk conservation to the entire populace, not just individual consumers.