Ottawa Citizen

De­mand for elec­tric­ity fall­ing in On­tario

Con­ser­va­tion the rea­son, not poor econ­omy, of­fi­cial says

- IAN MACLEOD Business · Finance · Canada News · Clean Tech · Ecology · Economics · Social Sciences · Ontario · North America · United States of America · Alberta · Ontario Power Authority · Alberta · Long-Term Capital Management

En­ergy con­ser­va­tion will curb On­tario’s growth in de­mand for elec­tric­ity to the slow­est pace in North Amer­ica over the coming decade, ac­cord­ing to government and in­dus­try fore­casts.

The de­cel­er­at­ing ap­petite for elec­tri­cal power leaves the province as the only elec­tric­ity-gen­er­at­ing ju­ris­dic­tion on the con­ti­nent to forecast neg­a­tive growth in win­ter de­mand and flat growth in sum­mer de­mand for 2013-2022, ac­cord­ing to the North Amer­i­can Elec­tric Re­li­a­bil­ity Cor­po­ra­tion (NERC), an in­dus­try or­ga­ni­za­tion that over­sees the in­tercon­ti­nen­tal bulk power sys­tem.

“This isn’t be­cause economies aren’t grow­ing and our pop­u­la­tion is not grow­ing, and it isn’t be­cause peo­ple aren’t buy­ing things,” says Chuck Farmer, di­rec­tor of plan­ning pol­icy and ap­provals with the On­tario Power Author­ity (OPA).

“It’s really be­cause the growth is be­ing off­set by en­ergy ef­fi­ciency in one form or an­other and I think that’s quite a success story.”

Al­berta, by com­par­i­son, leads Canada and the United States with long-term de­mand growth pro­jec­tions of 3.67 per cent (sum­mer) and 3.57 per cent (win­ter).

Driven largely by work on the oil­sands projects, as­so­ci­ated devel­op­ment and pop­u­la­tion growth, the Al­berta forecast calls for a com­bined de­mand in­crease of a whop­ping 8,500 megawatts (MW) of power over the decade, NERC says in its lat­est long-term power re­li­a­bil­ity as­sess­ment.

Canada as a whole projects mod­er­ate elec­tric­ity de­mand growth based on cor­re­spond­ing eco­nomic growth, ac­cord­ing to the report.

In On­tario, mean­while, elec­tric­ity de­mand growth has de­clined since reach­ing a peak in 2005. And now, win­ter de­mand has slipped in neg­a­tive (-0.34 per cent) ter­ri­tory, with sum­mer de­mand pre­dicted to barely move at 0.07 per cent.

The pro­vin­cial econ­omy, still re­cov­er­ing from the 2008 global re­ces­sion, is ex­pected to con­tinue to un­dergo struc­tural change from an en­ergy-in­tense in­dus­trial process-based econ­omy to one with a larger ser­vice sec­tor and spe­cial­ized or high-value-added man­u­fac­tur­ing. Power-wise, that’s re­sulted in about a 10-per-cent to 14-per-cent drop in in­dus­trial sec­tor de­mand.

On the other hand, the an­nual rate of pop­u­la­tion growth over the coming decade is pro­jected at about 1.2 per cent, while the num­ber of On­tario house­holds is ex­pected to in­crease by about 1.4 per cent a year. That means mil­lions of ad­di­tional television­s, mi­crowaves, air con­di­tion­ers and elec­tric tooth­brushes.

As well, com­mer­cial floor space is grow­ing by about two per cent a year, all of which also will need to be lit, heated, cooled and equipped with lap­tops and other elec­tron­ics.

Left alone, de­mand would rise cor­re­spond­ingly, as it has tra­di­tion­ally. But a key driver pulling in the other di­rec­tion — and re­sult­ing in es­sen­tially flat de­mand growth — is grow­ing en­ergy con­ser­va­tion, ag­gres­sively pro­moted by the pro­vin­cial government.

From the pro­fu­sion of en­ergy-ef­fi­cient light­ing, to time-of-use pric­ing to steadily ris­ing house­hold hy­dro bills, peo­ple are find­ing rea­sons to em­brace en­ergy sav­ing.

Though the government’s 2011 Long-Term En­ergy Plan an­tic­i­pates the province will still re­quire 15,000 MW of new (or re­fur­bished) gen­er­at­ing ca­pac­ity over the next 20 years, that is an es­ti­mated 7,100 MW less power than with­out con­ser­va­tion, or the equiv­a­lent of tak­ing 2.4 mil­lion homes off the grid.

The pro­vin­cial plan re­lies heav­ily on de­mand-side man­age­ment anal­y­sis from OPA, which is re­spon­si­ble for longterm elec­tric­ity plan­ning, con­ser­va­tion and con­tract­ing for elec­tric­ity gen­er­ated from re­new­able re­sources. Its as­sess­ments of eco­nomic and busi­ness in­di­ca­tors, weather trends and ac­tual us­age pat­terns form the ba­sis of the On­tario forecast in the an­nual NERC report.

For the cur­rent On­tario En­ergy Plan, up­dated ev­ery three years, the OPA pre­sented the plan’s drafters with anal­y­sis based on three sce­nar­ios — high, medium and low de­mand growth, each tak­ing into ac­count con­ser­va­tion re­duc­tions.

The cur­rent plan is based on the medium sce­nario — mod­er­ate growth in the in­dus­trial sec­tor, con­tin­ued growth in the res­i­den­tial, com­mer­cial and trans­porta­tion sec­tors — and fore­casts de­mand grow­ing mod­er­ately (15 per cent) be­tween 2010 and 2030.

 ?? TIM FRASER/POST­MEDIA NEWS ?? From en­ergy-ef­fi­cient light­ing to time-of-use pric­ing to ris­ing hy­dro bills, peo­ple are em­brac­ing en­ergy sav­ing.
TIM FRASER/POST­MEDIA NEWS From en­ergy-ef­fi­cient light­ing to time-of-use pric­ing to ris­ing hy­dro bills, peo­ple are em­brac­ing en­ergy sav­ing.

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