While spring in Ontario has yet to bring much rain, thereís been no shortage of mudslinging over rising electricity prices. But thereís more to it than critics of renewable energy would you have you believe: new data helps to clarify how prices are linked more to nuclear power than clean energy programs.
To start with, electricity prices are going to go up no matter what source of energy we choose to use. Half of the provincial electricity systemís generating capacity ó including almost every nuclear reactor ó needs to be replaced or rebuilt within the next 10 years and you simply cannot build power plants in 2012 at 1980s prices.
While itís the only province so far to be phasing out coal, price increases are by no means exclusive to Ontario. In coal-powered Alberta, energy prices are forecast to rise by 50 per cent between 2010 and 2016. Between 2002 and 2010, rates in Nova Scotia rose by 37 per cent. In Saskatchewan they rose by 36 per cent. And B.C. Hydro forecasts a rate increase of 32 per cent between 2011 and 2014.
What seems to be unique to Ontario is the fear that renewable energy is the sole cause of the increase. Although Ontarioís ambitious clean energy development targets are being met by establishing contracts with renewable energy generators in the form of feed-in tariffs (FIT), the province has similar long-term contracts with both nuclear- and gas-powered plants.