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Treat Hull calls for conservation, energy purchases from Quebec

Treat Hull, Green Party of Ontario candidate for Prince Edward-Hastings, addressed a capacity all-candidate’s meeting on energy in Picton last night where he called for increasing investment in conservation and for purchasing water-generated power from Quebec. In his prepared opening remarks, he said:
“As Green Party Candidate for Prince Edward-Hastings, I am committed to offering an alternative that is financially conservative, socially progressive and environmentally responsible. I hope that you will find these values reflected in our proposals on energy.
“We cannot talk about our energy plans without taking into account the province’s current financial condition. Ontario has an all-time record deficit, and even though interest rates are as close to zero as they can go, interest expense is already the third largest provincial expenditure, right behind healthcare and education. From my perspective, the massive deficit makes it imperative to invest the public’s limited resources wisely where we will get the most impact for every dollar spent.
“This means that, first and foremost, we need to invest in conservation and in improving energy efficiency. At a cost of 2-4 cents per kilowatt hour, conservation can help consumers protect themselves from rising energy prices and reduce Ontario’s energy demand.  I would be happy to expand on how we propose to do this later.
“Second, to the extent that we need any new sources of generation, we have yet to fully utilize the least expensive form of renewable energy, namely water-generated hydroelectricity. Ontario can and should purchase hydro-electricity from Quebec, which is obliged under Federal law to offer power to Ontario at the same rate it charges US customers, currently 7 cents a kilowatt hour.
“Third, I want to address the other forms of renewable energy, especially industrial-scale wind and solar.  Until we have taken full advantage of the lower cost options of conservation and hydro-electricity, it is financially and environmentally irresponsible to pursue large-scale wind and solar at 13 cents and 44 cents a kilowatt hour.
“Many of you may be aware of the fact that the province has a generation surplus, but you might not know that the surplus is so large that it cannot be fully accommodated by exporting energy to the US. According to the Independent System Operator, since spring we have been experiencing these large surpluses on ‘a weekly basis, resulting in nuclear unit reductions on 54 days, nuclear  shutdowns on five days and water spillage at  hydro facilities on 33 days.’
“The evidence shows there is NO generation shortage and the McGuinty government was utterly without justification when it stripped our local government of zoning rights for wind and solar energy. Zoning rights for energy projects must be restored to local governments before any additional projects can proceed.
“Large-scale wind and solar will have an important place in Ontario’s medium and long-term energy future, once the price falls to competitive levels and once the preconditions are in place to effectively use their intermittent output, preconditions which include cost-effective mass storage and the implementation of a smart grid to manage demand.
“However, our current generation surplus  means that we can and we must take the time to address citizen concerns about location, setbacks, wildlife and health issues. Likewise, we must end the situation where the costs of industrial wind are borne by local citizens while the benefits flow to major corporations. Any future projects which proceed with the approval of local governments must provide significant local benefits, including local participation in ownership and control.
“Lastly, I want to briefly discuss the nuclear issue. Both the Liberals and the Tories are committed to spend in excess of $35 billion on new nuclear construction as the top priority of their energy plans, despite the fact that no Ontario nuclear project has ever come in on-time or on-budget. In fact, we are still paying off the debt retirement charge from previous nuclear projects but the Liberal and Conservatives propose more of the same. Nuclear power should become the source of last resort, not the primary energy source for the province.
“If I am elected, I will fight for a halt to industrial-scale wind until the government restores zoning rights to municipalities,
“I will fight for conservation and for the purchase of cost-effective renewable water power rather than using consumer dollars to subsidize foreign wind energy companies, and
“I will fight for legislation which would prohibit nuclear contractors from passing their cost-overruns on the consumers of Ontario.
“If you agree that this is a financially prudent and environmentally sound plan, I hope that I can count on your active support in the days ahead leading up to October 6th.
Green campaign office above Miss Lily’s Cafe, Picton. Belleville office 59 Dundas East., (noon to 6 p.m.)  Phone for both: 613-476-8700.

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