Environmentalists attack Ontario energy act

Ontario's Energy Competition Act, passed in late October, has been attacked by environmentalists for perpetuating the dominance of nuclear and discouraging renewables and energy efficiency. By leaving Ontario Hydro's generation intact, the act allows the huge utility to continue its control of 90% of the market. Supposed regulation by Ontario's Market Design Committee is so far regarded as ineffective. Moreover, Ontario Hydro's nuclear program continues to falter and deteriorate -- the utility shut down seven reactors over the last year, lacking the resources to operate them safely. Despite debts estimated at C$23 billion -- mostly due to uneconomic nuclear generation -- Ontario Hydro has spent hundreds of millions of dollars in attempts to revive the ageing reactors. To help cover some of the debt, the government has established a transmission charge of C$0.006/kWh, a pointed contrast to California's "system benefits charge," which supports renewable energy, Dave Martin of the Nuclear Awareness Project, points out.