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The Green Energy Act brought Ontario new investment, jobs and manufacturing — not to mention clean sources of energy. But Ontario is now paying premium prices for that clean electricity, and many Ontarians are wondering if they got a good deal.
In a meeting last April with the Senate Standing Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources, then-environment minister Jim Prentice said: "in terms of reducing our emissions of greenhouse gas as well as other pollutants, the more natural gas we can bring on in this country, the more desirable it is."
But a new report released today by the Pembina Institute and the David Suzuki Foundation challenges that assumption.
Just over a year ago, the federal government announced a plan to regulate greenhouse gas pollution from some of the dirtiest sources of energy in Canada — coal power plants. While the rules aren't scheduled to take effect for four years, the government promised to guard against any efforts to rush new plants into service ahead of their start date.
Now, a decision by an Alberta regulator to approve a new coal plant has put the ball squarely in the federal government's court to live up to that commitment. And so far, the signs aren't promising.
Cancelling the Green Energy Act would have little effect on Ontario electricity prices: author of new report explains results
Ontario's electricity prices have become a hot-button issue recently.
But in spite of the increased focus on Ontario's electricity system, and in particular the Green Energy Act, there has been little information about how replacing the Act would affect electricity prices in the future.
Just over a year ago, the federal government announced a plan to regulate some of the dirtiest sources of energy in Canada — coal power plants. Now, a decision by an Alberta regulator to approve a new coal plant has put the ball squarely in the federal government's court to live up to one part of that 2010 announcement.
Geothermal energy generates about 10,000 megawatts of the world's electricity, enough to power 10 million homes. But in a world on fire, Sarah McLachlan and the folks at the Canadian Geothermal Energy Association would like to see this number increase dramatically.
Some say banning old-fashioned light bulbs — the incandescent kind — could be bad for our health. Unfortunately, it might be this belief that could cause the most harm.
Ed Whittingham clarifies the Pembina Institute's position on the proposed use of CCS at SaskPower's Boundary Dam coal plant, in response to a letter published by Rob Norris, Saskatchewan's minister responsible for SaskPower.
In a recent post we examined the remarkable growth of renewable energy in China — and the rising importance of climate change, energy security and low-carbon development in government decision-making. Here we will offer a quick look ahead at what lays in store for the next five years.
The Liberal Party's campaign platform, released Sunday, promised a cap-and-trade system that would apply to "all sectors of the economy with no exceptions."
Despite some unanswered questions, a pledge to put a price on Canada's greenhouse gas pollution is always good news in our books. But according to this week's media reports, cap-and-trade is a pretty scary prospect for some commentators.
It's early days yet, but this spring's federal election campaign has already made one thing abundantly clear: there are a lot of political junkies working at the Pembina Institute.
Despite some very serious distractions (like those irresistible new daily Nanos numbers) we managed to tear ourselves away from our Twitter feeds long enough to put together a checklist for the kind of party platforms we'd like to see in this campaign.
The recent wave of instability in the Middle East and the corresponding increase in oil prices have refuelled the debate in Washington, D.C. over the role Canada's oil should play in meeting American energy demand.
Earlier today, U.S. President Barack Obama delivered a speech focusing on America's energy security, and his bottom line was this:
"The only way for America's energy supply to be truly secure is by permanently reducing our dependence on oil. We have to find ways to boost our efficiency so that we use less oil. We have to discover and produce cleaner, renewable sources of energy with less of the carbon pollution that threatens our climate. And we have to do it quickly."
I have often marveled at how seriously Japan takes emergency preparedness, without which the casualty rate from the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami would have been far, far greater.
Yet as we watch the drama unfold, we would be reckless not to consider the implications of Japan's nuclear crisis for our own energy system. Canadian energy planners and politicians, particularly those in Ontario who are pushing for a nuclear renaissance, must draw lessons from the Fukushima nuclear crisis. In short: we should be planning to phase out nuclear power, not aid its rebirth.
The scale of China's climate challenge is massive. But so too is the scale of economic opportunity for China associated with a low-carbon transition. It's increasingly clear that China is taking both quite seriously.
Roughly a year ago, at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Republican Senator Lindsay Graham made a telling admission:
"Six months ago my biggest worry was that an emissions deal would make American business less competitive compared to China. Now my concern is that every day that we delay trying to find a price for carbon is a day that China uses to dominate the green economy."
At a time when higher-level governments seem unable or unwilling to make progress toward sustainable economies, cities and municipalities are pushing the envelope on reneweble energy.
Ontario's electricity system is undergoing a major transformation. Much
of the electricity transmission infrastructure is old and in need of
refurbishing, most of the nuclear capacity is nearing the end its
lifetime and Ontario has made a laudable commitment to shut down its
coal-fired power plants.
It is easy (and overly simplistic) to blame the Green Energy Act for higher electricity prices, as is happening all too often in Ontario. The truth is electricity prices are increasing all across North America, largely due to the simple fact that we are building new power plants and relying less on those built decades ago.
A “harmonization of outcomes” far off as U.S. prepares to regulate more sources of climate pollution
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's new regulations for industrial greenhouse gas emissions from major new and modified facilities took effect earlier this month — and despite dire warnings from some U.S. industry lobby groups, the sky appears to have remained in place!
Recently, the EPA took a second important step forward, introducing plans to regulate climate change pollution from all new and existing power plants and refineries. The move to establish standards for two separate source categories signals that the EPA is moving forward carefully on GHGs, rather than proposing a broader cap-and-trade system under the Clean Air Act.
Today's cabinet shuffle saw Peter Kent named as the new federal environment minister, and it couldn't have come at a better moment.
With a new year just beginning, it's the perfect opportunity for Minister Kent to chart a fresh path forward for environmental management in Canada. And, in keeping with tradition at this time of year, we've outlined a few resolutions we'd like to see the new minister adopt.
Canadians like to think of their electricity generally being fairly clean. After all, some provinces such as Quebec, Manitoba and B.C. have systems that emit almost no greenhouse gases. It'll surprise some of you then that we found only one per cent of Canada's electricity comes from sources that are both low-impact and renewable.
It would be hard to count the number of times our present federal government has insisted that Canada's approach to climate change policy must be "harmonized" or "aligned" with the United States. Yet, despite all the political obstacles to taking serious action to reduce carbon emissions in the U.S., the Obama administration is moving ahead. Canada, meanwhile, appears determined to sit firmly on its hands.
In January, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will begin regulating greenhouse gases (GHGs) from large industrial facilities such as power plants and oil refineries under the Clean Air Act. It's a modest start, but an important step forward nonetheless.
Yesterday I attended a government briefing on the release of Ontario's long-term energy plan. I walked away pleased that the government was staying the course on developing a green and reliable electricity system that Ontarians can be proud of. This government has been criticized for recent increases to electricity bills, and it would have been easy to back down from their plans and instead move forward with a cheaper, dirtier plan — but they did not, and for this they should be commended.
This Pembina Institute has produced the Landowners' Guide to Wind Energy in Alberta to help landowners learn about and get involved with wind energy.
In 2002, the Alberta body that regulates energy agreed to let a power company build a new coal-fired power plant outside Edmonton, with one key environmental condition: the company would make good on a voluntary commitment to cut the plant's greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in half.
At the time, the power company's voluntary commitment represented an uncommon display of corporate leadership and environmental responsibility. For the company, it simply made good business sense: the power sector believed that the province was set to unveil tough new climate change regulations, and since coal is a much higher-polluting energy source than alternatives such as natural gas, the company could undercut objections to using coal by promising to reduce the plant's net emissions (through purchasing offsets) to a level comparable to natural gas power generation. This solution removed one of the obvious reasons to block the use of a high-polluting source of energy, while positioning the company as a leader in the industry — it seemed like a win-win.
The Ontario Power Authority admits that nuclear has exceeded the threshold where it is no longer a cost-effective energy option. To build a sustainable energy economy and guarantee the phase-out of coal in 2014, we need cost-effective and flexible energy options that can be deployed quickly, not new nuclear plants that take at least a decade to build. Replacing the aging Pickering B nuclear station with green energy is the best opportunity to open up much needed grid space, and it would provide the Green Energy Act with the time, space and investment focus it needs to produce results.
The $100 million made off with by unscrupulous Ontario lottery retailers pales in comparison to the jackpot hit by Bruce Power when it signed a deal to rebuild nuclear reactors at the Bruce Nuclear Station.
Minister Gary Lunn has become an increasingly vocal promoter of nuclear power, most recently in a speech to the Economic Club in Toronto last month.
Minister Gary Lunn has become an increasingly vocal promoter of the idea of using nuclear power as an alternative energy source to natural gas for developing Alberta's oilsands.
Ontario faces a looming energy crunch. Pembina's solution is to reject more nuclear plants and consider conservation and alternative energy instead.
Mark Winfield explains on CBC radio's Commentary.
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