Energy Conservation Week in Ontario
It was the availability of cheap, abundant electricity that gave birth to Ontario's economy, the largest in Canada. But as this economy has grown, the need for electricity has grown even faster. As recently as a decade ago, home computers and other electronic equipment were considered luxury items. Now the majority of Ontario's 4.5 million homes host at least one or two computers, printers, DVD players, video games, iPods and various other electronic gadgets. Even when they are not in use, many of these devices continue to draw electricity, pushing demand even further.
Computers and other electronic devices have taken over the business world as well. Twenty years ago, executive would have human assistants. Today, people have been replaced by computers, Blackberries, cell phones and other devices, all of which also require electricity. Let's not forget that the institutional sector is also dependent on a vast network of computers and other equipment that is driven by electricity.
The result of all of this increasing demand is that in less than 20 years, Ontario's peak electricity consumption with rise from 26,000 Megawatts (MW) to over 34,000 MW. Meanwhile, many of our major sources of generation are in need of expensive retrofits or replacement. In order to simply keep up with our need, Ontarians will have to reduce their energy consumption by 6,300 MW by 2025 - or the equivalent of taking one in five electricity consumers off the power grid. Clearly our current path is not sustainable.
Enter Peter Love, Ontario's Energy Conservation Officer. Appointed in 2005 by the Ontario Power Authority, Peter has enthusiastically embraced the job of creating a culture of conservation within the province.
To help him with this monumental task, the Conservation Bureau recently announced Ontario's first Energy Conservation Week. From May 25 to 31, Peter will be promoting his message of, "Think, Believe, Act."
"The challenge is to make people think about electricity conservation the same way that they think about water conservation." Peter points out that while most people wouldn’t think about letting a tap run, they are oblivious to how much energy they waste every day.
"And unlike water, electricity has to be generated, sometimes hundreds of kilometers away, and then transmitted to where it is available 24 hours a day," said Peter. "The system was never designed for this demand."
"Everyone has to think about electricity and be mindful every time they use it," said Peter. "Hope is not a strategy."
"Believe," is the second part of Peter’s message.
"I need you to believe that you should and can reduce your electricity consumption and that it is in everyone's best interest to reduce our need to generate power," said Peter. As he explains, this isn't just about cutting our own electricity bills.
"The cost of energy in every part of our lives will continue to rise." As taxpayers, we pay for electricity indirectly through our healthcare system, our schools and our public infrastructure. Saving electricity translates into more money available to spend on better health care, more teachers, improved public and social services.
The third part of Peter's conservation message is "Act". As he so accurately points out, the era of cheap electricity is over. The good news is that it's cheaper to conserve electricity than it is to create new sources. As an added bonus, conservation programs and energy efficiency can create new jobs in emerging fields such as renewable energy technology and engineering.
"Energy conservation is pivotal to Ontario’s future," said Peter.
Energy Conservation Week provides a great place to get started. The week kicked off on Sunday, May 25th with Peter throwing the opening pitch at Toronto’s energy-efficient Rogers Centre. Monday invited the industrial/commercial/institutional sector to look at the impact of energy use, while Tieless Tuesday focused on encouraging businesses to save energy by turning air conditioners up two degrees and promoting a casual summer dress code. Watt Wednesday provides everyone with tips for reducing peak summer demand and Thursday is "Count Every Kilowatt Day". Cool Down Friday's focus is what Ontarians can do long-term to ensure the health and sustainability of the grid.
For more information, check out www.energyconservationweek.ca.
The Every Kilowatt Counts Summer Sweepstakes encourages Ontarians to reduce their electricity use in the summer, when demand is highest. Go to www.everykilowattcounts.com for more details.