Bluffs Advocate
nuclear power ontario energy efficiency

Conserve to Save Ourselves Another Darlington

We are facing an immediate shortage of electrical power. Energy efficiency is vital to our future

By Peter Tabuns, MPP, Toronto-Danforth

           April 22nd is Earth Day. It’s an important day, observed around the world, created to remind us of our shared responsibility to protect the environment – for our community, our province, our country and our planet.
             Earth Day started in 1970. It involved 20 million participants in teach-ins that addressed decades of environmental pollution. The event inspired the US Congress to pass clean air and water acts, and establish the Environmental Protection Agency to research and monitor environmental issues and enforce environmental laws.
             Some 40 years later, Earth Day has grown from humble roots into the largest, most celebrated environmental event worldwide. More than eight million Canadians join an estimated one billion people in over 180 countries in staging events and projects to address local environmental issues. Nearly every school child in Canada takes part in an Earth Day activity.
             It’s heartening to watch the many positive, creative ways people celebrate Earth Day. There are Eco Festivals, community clean-ups and tree plantings. One of my favourite programs remains the Litterless Lunch, where people are challenged to pack a lunch where nothing gets thrown away.
            There are little choices that make a big difference. Then there are big choices that make a bigger difference. One of those big choices involves Ontario’s energy future. Our province is at a crossroads. Very soon, we are going to have to make tough choices about how to keep the lights on in our homes, businesses, schools and hospitals.
             One choice is to spend billions of dollars on new nuclear mega-plants. This is the approach favoured by our former premier, Dalton McGuinty. I think nuclear is the wrong choice. It is expensive and unreliable. What’s worse is that there are no long-term plans to safely store the toxic radioactive waste nuclear power generates.
             There is another choice -- energy efficiency and conservation. Instead of building more risky nuclear mega-plants, we could start being smarter and more responsible about the energy we already produce.
             Unlike nuclear power, energy efficiency and conservation have a successful track record. By setting tougher energy efficiency standards, and by setting up programs to retrofit homes and encourage people to buy energy efficient appliance choices, we could save 4,500 megawatts of power, the equivalent of a new Darlington Nuclear Plant.
            I think the choice is clear. Energy efficiency is clean. It’s quick. Best of all for hydro ratepayers, it’s the most affordable option too.