No need for coal says Ontario study

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Ontario can reduce energy waste and generate enough green power to shut down all five of its coal fired electricity stations, says a report from a coalition of environment groups. The Canadian province's 7519 MW of coal generates about 40,000 GWh a year. But the report, Green Power Opportunities for Ontario, argues there is at least 20,000 GWh of low-environmental impact renewable energy, mostly wind generated, on the doorstep. In addition, there's another 20,000 GWh of enhanced energy efficiency that can be easily achieved.

The report, presented to Ontario's Select Committee on Alternative Fuel Sources, recommends implementation of a demand side management program, elimination of subsidies to conventional fossil and nuclear energy sources, and reform of electricity pricing so that all costs of polluting fuels are included, including those hidden in health care and environmental degradation and not included in the price of coal generation, says Christine Elwell of the Canadian Institute for Environmental Law and Policy, one of the organisations behind the report.

An alternative to immediate price reform, which the report admits may be "more attractive to economists and environmentalists than it is to politicians," is the introduction of a renewables portfolio standard (RPS) mandating a minimum amount of green power in the supply portfolio. Like other Ontario RPS supporters, the report's sponsors were pushing for the implementation of an RPS before Ontario's electricity market opened to competition on May 1. The select committee, however, was not expected to submit its final report to Ontario's Legislative Assembly until the end of May.

In fact, in a separate report, the Toronto Environmental Alliance (TEA) called on the government to put a moratorium on its deregulation plan until measures to promote green energy are in place. Arguing that competition favours "cheap" power from coal, the TEA wants Ontario to impose an RPS of 10% by 2010 and 20% by 2020, a public benefits fund of C$0.003/kWh, a production tax credit of C$0.02/kWh for renewable generation and a green consumer tax credit of C$0.03/kWh.

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