Electricity Competition Plans Err on Air Pollution

Article excerpt

Clean air advocates fear Ontario's moves to a competitive electricity market will have negative health and environmental effects.

Last November, the provincial government released plans to split Ontario Hydro into three pieces, ending the public utility's monopoly and introducing more competition to the electricity market.

The province says that this should bring lower prices for consumers, and some alternative energy advocates believe the move will increase opportunities for greener power sources. But the Ontario Clean Air Alliance expects harmful consequences if the province opens the market without introducing new environmental protection measures.

Alliance chair Jack Gibbons says the current plan "will increase air pollution, jeopardize human health and endanger our environment."

The Independent Power Producers' Society of Ontario has welcomed the chance to compete with Ontario Hydro. The society argues that independent power producers generate electricity in many environmentally preferable ways, and competition will mean the use of a range of newer, cleaner technologies such as high efficiency co-generation, small hydro, landfill gas, biomass and wind energy.

The Clean Air Alliance, however, expects likely market entrants to include private corporations and municipal utilities building new gas-fired generating stations. They also fear some buyers will import electricity from coal-fired stations in the Ohio Valley, upwind of Ontario. …