Last week, I was pleased to give a “wrap-up” presentation at All-Energy 2014. Wanting to keep it light and upbeat on the final afternoon of a long conference – and with the recent news of Letterman’s retirement from the Late Show to be replaced by Stephen Colbert – I thought I’d pay homage to David Letterman’s 32 years as host with a top ten list of my own (well, you can’t do stupid pet tricks on a blog!). Be assured though, Ontario must take energy planning seriously and conservation is no laughing matter. So here’s my top ten, each with a brief accompanying explanation.
- Plan on the basis of all fuels
We obsess on electricity planning in Ontario and ignore other forms of energy. But if we care about the economy, our energy planning shouldn’t ignore petroleum fuels, which are imported; meaning revenue and jobs flow out of the province, whereas electricity is domestically produced.
- Integrate a cost of carbon
Even Exxon, Shell, Google, GE and Walt Disney to name just some are putting a shadow price on carbon [.pdf]. for their long-term planning, as a risk management tool to avoid making bad decisions. Ontario should do the same.
- Provide transparency, honesty and stakeholder participation
Let’s be honest. Government and industry should respond to the misinformation that is controlling the public policy debate. They should set the record straight about the reasons for price changes and the contribution of nuclear, gas, renewable generation and transmission to price increases.
- Take advantage of the technological opportunities
We are ignoring or have been under-utilizing options like waste heat, smart grid and thermal/electrical storage.
- Pursue building retrofits and energy consumption labelling
Let’s take action on our existing stock of buildings which are a significant source of carbon dioxide emissions. Provincial legislation exists to allow energy labelling; and there’s a Motion (no. 44) passed by the Legislature (47 Aye, 34 Nay) to require such labelling on houses at time-of-sale by end of 2014.
- Support renewable heat – geothermal and solar hot water
Again, these are under-utilized and can be used elsewhere than just schools. Let’s update our Building Code like Vancouver has done.
- Seize low carbon opportunities in transportation
Electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles, light rail transit and electrification of heavy rail make perfect sense when we have low-carbon, low-cost electricity available during the night that is ideal for powering transportation.
- Create an open policy forum
Remember when these were commonly used by governments to inform and develop policy … Ontario electricity policy especially is such a closed-off world.
- Always place energy conservation first
Everywhere and every time, it’s the cheapest and best way forward for electricity.
- Show leadership
We need someone to show us the path forward because we do not have a vision of where we are going.