Facts and Myths Debunked

Facts and Figures

Ontario’s Electricity System

  • By 2030, almost 80% of electricity generation will come from refurbished electricity generating facilities or new sources.
  • Despite conservation efforts, demand for electricity will increase by 15% from 2011‐2030
  • Ontario’s plan to phase-out coal-fired plants by 2014 is one of the largest emission reduction initiatives in all of North America.
  • Today, 37% of Ontario’s electricity is supplied by nuclear power, 21% by coal-fired generating facilities, 16% by oil and natural gas-fired generation and 26% hydroelectric generation and renewable sources combined.
  • Renewable energy use (wind, solar and bio-energy) is expected to rise to approximately 13% of generation by 2018. Currently, these sources contribute 3% of Ontario’s electricity supply.

Our electricity bill

  • In Ontario, electricity is generated from approximately 250 generators such as Ontario Power Generation, Bruce Power and Huron Wind. This cost represents 43% of the total cost of the average monthly electricity bill. As of 2011, the wind and solar portion of total generation in Ontario is only 3% . Therefore this represents a very small portion of our electricity bill.
  • Image: Ontario Energy Board

  • Based on numbers from the Environment Commissioner, the price paid for solar and wind energy under the Feed-In Tariff program (FIT) adds less than $1.50 to the average monthly household electricity bill. The microFIT portion of the program represents less than a fraction of 1¢.
  • The anticipated increases in electricity cost will come primarily from modernizing Ontario’s aging electricity infrastructure and not from the specific type of power generation. The choice of fossil fuels versus renewables will have an impact on the air quality, greenhouse gas pollution, economic diversity and employment according to the Pembina Institute’s report: Behind the Switch; Pricing Ontario’s Electricity Option, July 2011.

The true cost of coal and nuclear energy

  • The Ontario Ministry of Environment estimates that shutting down coal will reduce health care costs by $3 billion annually. According to the Ministry of Energy this translates to 12.7¢ the cost per kWh of generating electricity with coal.
  • Prior to the nuclear accident in Fukushima, Japan, the California Energy Commission put true nuclear generation costs at 30¢/kWh uninsured and up to 40¢/kWh insured. The increases on our hydro bill has not been from renewables.

When all is factored into the price, traditional electricity generation is not as competitive as we are led to believe. Prices will continue to go up as resources decrease. The price of electricity generated by abundant renewable sources can only go down because the cost of technology is rapidly dropping.

Ontario’s Green Energy Act results

With Ontario’s promise of two years of stable FIT prices, the following occurred:

  • Ontario ranked second in 2010 for solar PV installations amongst US states and Canadian provinces and territories (167 MW dc).
  • Private Sector Investment in Ontario will be over $21 Billion by 2018: the solar PV industry is to drive $12.9 billion and the wind industry is to attract $8.5 billion.
  • 58 manufacturers, with over 1,000 stakeholders in wind and solar industry have been identified as of August 2011
  • 17,000 MW of renewable energy is planned as a result of the Feed-In Tariff (FIT) contracts
  • 26,000 farmers and homeowners in Ontario are participating in the MicroFIT program.
  • Over 1000 aboriginal and community-based FIT projects are under development
  • As of Nov. 2010, one of the world’s 3 largest solar plants is located in Sarnia, Ontario at 80 MW

Some Myths Debunked

MYTH: Energy generation from solar is only possible in countries that receive lots of sunshine.

TRUTH: Canada has more sunlight than Germany, where the highest level of solar PV installations of any market in the world is currently generating 9.6 gigawatts, 145 times Canada’s current capacity.

MYTH: Europe is backing away from renewable energy.

TRUTH: Spain and Italy are cutting back on government spending, including renewable energy, due to the financial crisis. The EU has actually increased its targets for renewable energy. Denmark has announced plans to double its wind power targets, and in the wake of the Fukushima disaster in Japan, Germany has decided to end its nuclear program by 2022 and replace their grid with renewable energy. The EU has a target of 20% of electricity from renewable sources.

MYTH: Renewable energy is being subsidized by our tax dollars.

TRUTH: The FIT program does not require the taxpayer to subsidize any projects. The Power Authority sets a price per kWh that is designed to attract private investment to build projects. Projects are built entirely using private money. If a project is over-budget, delayed, or improperly constructed, it is the developer who absorbs the costs. Under the FIT program the price paid is only for the electricity that is generated.

This is in direct contrast to all older forms of electricity generation in Ontario. Nuclear, coal, large hydroelectric and gas facilities are directly subsidized by tax dollars. Ontario has never had a single nuclear station built on time and on budget, and taxpayers have consistently absorbed mistakes and cost overruns. Recent examples include the refurbishment of Bruce B and the Big Becky tunnel project which both ran significantly over-budget.

The FIT prices are reviewed regularly as the cost of the technology to harvest solar and wind energy continues to drop.

MYTH: Samsung and foreign manufacturers are not a good deal for Ontario.

TRUTH: The Samsung deal includes a $110 million dollar subsidy over 10 years in exchange for the creation of 4 major renewable energy factories (Panels, Inverters, Towers, Blades) and the creation of 16,000 jobs. This is similar to subsidies given to auto manufacturers (Honda, Toyota, Ford and GM) and other major employers to attract business to Ontario. The “sweetheart deal” catchphrase used by critics implies that the deal will cost Ontarians $7 billion. In reality, the $7 billion is an investment by Samsung in renewable energy in Ontario.

MYTH: Renewable energy is unreliable. The sun doesn’t always shine and the wind doesn’t always blow.

TRUTH: Solar panels produce electricity consistently throughout the year, even during the darker days of winter, as long as they are sited properly to shed snow. They produce power right when and where it is needed the most like on hot sunny summer days, when market electricity prices are highest, at peak demand times, and electricity is needed to run air conditioning.

Wind power is also remarkably reliable, with accurate weather predictions of wind days in advance. Reliability is increased particularly when distributed across a large geographic area on a mixed electricity grid as it is in Ontario. The wind is almost always blowing somewhere.

Under the Feed-In-Tariff policy, wind and solar projects are only paid for electricity actually produced and sold on to the grid.

Like us on Facebook