Ontario Power Authority urged to boost renewables in energy plan

Ontario's energy minister has directed the Ontario Power Authority to re-examine part of its proposed Integrated Power System Plan to maximize the long-term energy strategy's potential to provide clean, renewable energy to the province.

OPA filed its 4,000-page Integrated Power System Plan with the Ontario Energy Board in August 2007. (HNN 9/14/07) The 20-year plan already proposes to more than double the amount of renewable energy on Ontario's grid by 2025, including nearly 3,000 MW of new hydropower.

Ontario Minister of Energy and Infrastructure George Smitherman directed OPA to carry out a six-month review including a look at: the amount and diversity of renewable energy sources in the energy supply mix; improvement of transmission capacity that is limiting development of new renewable energy supply; and the potential for pumped-storage hydropower to contribute to the energy supply during peak times.

�We're raising the bar on our plan to harness Ontario's vast green power potential, and on ensuring that new renewable power can flow onto the grid,� Smitherman said. �... We are raising the bar on our use of technologies made available in the rapidly evolving green energy sector, like pumped storage, smart meters, smart grids, and the latest on solar panels.�

Smitherman commented on the scope of the review during a Sept. 18 speech to the Ontario Energy Association in Niagara Falls. Not up for review, he said, are the government's plans to eliminate coal-fired generation from the energy supply mix by 2014, and to maintain 14,000 MW of nuclear capacity.

He noted nuclear and hydropower provided more than 75 percent of the electricity used in the province in 2007.

�Ontarians are fortunate to have clean energy sources like nuclear and Niagara Falls as the foundation of their supply,� Smitherman said, referring to the 2,000-MW Sir Adam Beck hydroelectric complex at Niagara Falls. �Building on this foundation with a strengthened renewables and conservation agenda will allow us to create jobs and further reduce our impact on the environment.�

Smitherman also directed the Ontario Power Authority to improve consultation with First Nation and Metis communities, including consideration of partnership opportunities in generation and transmission.

�I was particularly struck with the Ear Falls project, where new technology is being added to an existing hydroelectric site,� the minister said. �Here, the Lac Seul First Nation has 25 percent ownership in partnership with OPG� (Ontario Power Generation).

With the support of the Lac Seul First Nation, OPG is developing the Lac Seul project, adding a 12.5-MW generating unit to the 18.5-MW Ear Falls hydro plant on the English River. (HNN 11/24/06)

�This project is presently under construction, but there are several others being promoted by other First Nation and Metis communities, such as adding new technology to better harness the water resources on the lower Mattagami,� Smitherman said. (HNN 9/17/08)

The Ontario Energy Board is conducting hearings on OPA's Integrated Power System Plan (IPSP) to determine whether the plan meets government directives and is economically wise and cost effective.

In August, OPA called for proposals offering 500 MW from new renewable energy projects with capacities greater than 10 MW, including new and expanded hydropower projects. Proposals are due Oct. 28. (HNN 8/26/08) Bidding will mark the first phase of a renewable energy procurement process intended to combat climate change by adding 2,000 MW of new green power to Ontario's electricity supply.

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