Power. To the people
Re In Ontario, Hydro’s Future Gets Murkier (Nov. 14): In 2013, the Edison Electric Institute in the United States released a paper highlighting the “disruptive challenges” many North American utilities are facing.
It noted that a combination of reductions in the costs of renewables and an increase in the adoption of energy efficiency is a game changer: While these disruptions are reducing power demands (and revenues), the utilities’ fixed costs are continuing to rise. The paper alluded to the “death spiral” that many electric utilities will encounter if they don’t face these challenges.
Your article on the situation in Ontario, which deals with the disruptive effects of improvements in energy storage, quotes an Ernst and Young adviser on power and utilities warning politicians to “exercise caution on any big projects that will require decades to pay off” due to these disruptions.
At the same time, we have Ontario Power Generation spending $13-billion (and counting) to refurbish the Darlington nuclear plant.
And we have the province’s Financial Accountability Office warning that Premier Kathleen Wynne’s plans to cut hydro bills (obviously for short-term political gain) could cost $45-billion over the next 30 years.
Talk about a “death spiral”! – Chris Gates, Warkworth, Ont.
While your report focuses largely on the implications of consumers going off-grid, it’s important to clarify that the storage examples cited offer unique value for entirely different purposes: Storage helps integrate more unpredictable wind and solar generation, creates resilience and keeps the power grid in balance.
In Canada, we have cost-effective, clean-energy-storage technologies (e.g. batteries, flywheels, power to gas, compressed air) and applications that are developed and operating, some as long as 100 years ago (e.g. pumped storage hydro). These are not experimental tools. Storage acts as the ultimate multi-tasker in an era when our economy and communities have a growing reliance on a strong and resilient grid. – Patricia Phillips, executive director, Energy Storage Canada