During the spring election one of the major issues that came up was the high cost of hydro in the province of Ontario. It continues to be an issue with many businesses. On the local level, the wonderful work saveONenergy is doing through our local hydro utilities is helping many businesses take to conservation efforts to combat the rising cost. But the systemic challenges of power generation will undoubtedly hurt Ontario in attracting business.
In a recent article in the Toronto Star, Jack Gibbons of the Ontario Clean Air Alliance argues that as our aging nuclear plants need refurbishing the costs will run into the tens of billions and most likely go well over budget. The power produced by nuclear reactors is needed given that just over 50% of all electricity in Ontario comes from nuclear. Projections for one project at the Darlington reactors would result in a power that costs 8.3 cents per kWh. Alternatively Ontario could look to Quebec to tap into its abundant and clean hydroelectric power that would result in a cost per kWh of 5.7 cents. At the end of the day this could save Ontario $600 million a year over retrofitting the Darlington reactors.
Hydro Quebec already exports its electricity to the United States at a rate nearly a third of what the cost of hydro is projected to be after the Darlington refurbishing. Isn’t it time for Ontario to restart talks about Ontario buying the vast Quebec hydroelectric production to power our province?
As consumers, businesses or residential, we all want clean, abundant, and affordable hydro. The coal plants in Ontario have been completely shuttered in a bid to keep our air cleaner. There is a diverse mix of energy producers right now in Ontario between nuclear, natural gas, wind, and solar. Yet even with this approach the cost continues to increase due to a number of factors which impacts business. If there is a possibility that importing Quebec’s hydroelectric power will help drive Ontario’s economy and infrastructure forward, then that is a conversation that needs to be started.
For the financial health of the province these discussions between Ontario and Quebec need to be re-ignited. As Mr. Gibbons says in his piece, “Low-cost water power from Quebec is a bargain we simply can’t afford to refuse.”
And a conversation that needs to happen.