BY HEIDI ULRICHSEN
If Ontarians are going to keep their electricity bills under control while prices soar, perhaps they should follow the lead of big businesses like Inco Ltd., says a top Ontario Power Authority (OPA) official.
Inco has put in place a program called Power Play, which encourages employees to find ways to save energy by turning off lights and increasing the efficiency of equipment at all mines, plants and mills.
So far, the company has saved millions of dollars on their energy bill.
?The big industrial users in particular . . . have been embedding energy efficiency into their processes for years. If you look at the sectoral consumption ? residential, commercial and industrial - you'll see that industrial has dropped,? says Mary Ellen Richardson, vice-president of OPA's corporate services.
?They are looking for ways to save money and improve their bottom line. It's a purely economic decision. You and I will have to do the same thing at home because we have to save money.?
OPA has given power-saving awards to three Sudbury-area businesses ? Inco, Home Depot and Greater Sudbury Utilities.
Richardson and officials from the power authority were in Sudbury last week to speak at meetings of the Electricity Distributors Association and the Ontario Mining Association.
They chatted separately to members of the media at a question and answer session.
The OPA, a recently-created corporation reporting to Ontario Minister of Energy Dwight Duncan, is mandated to make recommendations about conservation programs, long-term electricity planning, new generation projects and electricity prices.
Reducing power use should become second nature for ordinary Ontarians, says Jan Carr, CEO of the power authority.
?Does anybody ask questions now about blue box programs? I don't think people even question it. It's just part of our lives. We need to get to the same point with energy use, and our particular interest, electricity use,? he says.
People did use less power during the heat wave this summer, but only after being warned about the possibility of blackouts. We need to realize electricity is not a bottomless pit, he says.
Governments cannot afford to subsidize the cost of electricity, Carr insists. As of April 1 of this year, citizens are paying the full cost of electricity. And prices will likely keep going up, he says.
We should also think about where our electricity is coming from, the CEO says. The power authority is writing a report about the future of power generation, which will be presented to the government in December.
The report will likely recommend a balanced approach to producing power, he says. That means using a mixture of nuclear and diesel generating stations and water and wind power in Ontario.
?We have not reached anything close to the capability that's there on renewable resources,? says Carr.
?You can anticipate that there will be a bigger slice of that (renewable energy) in the future. I'm not sure how much bigger, because obviously there are both economic and practical limitations.?