Ontario consumers would see virtually no relief from high electricity prices if the province canceled its support for renewable energy under the Green Energy Act (GEA), according to new research released by the Pembina Institute.
The study indicates that investing in renewable energy today is likely to save Ontario ratepayers money within the next 15 years as natural gas becomes more expensive and the cost of renewable energy technology continues to decrease.
‘As the province's polluting coal plants are phased out and its nuclear plants reach the end of their lives, the decisions Ontarians make today will determine how reliable, sustainable and affordable the province's electricity system will be 20 years from now,’ says Tim Weis, director of renewable energy and efficiency policy at the Pembina Institute.
The report examines how scaling back Ontario's plans to develop renewable energy would affect electricity prices, using an integrated energy system simulator to compare two main scenarios. The first scenario is based on Ontario's current Long-Term Energy Plan, in which a large part of new electricity generation comes from additional renewable capacity supported under the GEA; the second scenario tests the effect of eliminating the GEA and largely expanding natural gas in place of future renewable resources.
The results indicate that consumer electricity prices are set to continue rising sharply over the next decade under either scenario – with prices peaking around 2022, when Ontario's nuclear fleet is currently scheduled to undergo significant shutdowns.
Even if future contracts for renewable energy were ended this year, the model shows there would be very little change to projected electricity price increases – amounting to roughly a C$4 difference on the average household's monthly electricity bill.