Power. To the peo­ple

The Globe and Mail (Ottawa/Quebec Edition) - - OPINION -

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

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