Communities and workers have come to depend on nuclear and fossil fuel producers much as Windsor has come to rely on the automotive industry. Change is frightening and workers tend to back whoever they see as protecting their interests. The question is – who benefits? In terms of nuclear, where the risks are born by citizens who have to pay higher electricity rates for nuclear cost over runs and if there are accidents, in the short term workers can live a typical middle class suburban lifestyle, but in the long run we pay higher taxes and electricity rates, remain uncertain about what happens with nuclear waste, and suffer possible health problems as a result of a nuclear accident. In the meantime the nuclear industry, PR firms and government ministers get wealthy as the ecosystem we all rely on is denigrated. So the good news is that coal plants will be phased out by Dec 31, 2014, according to Jack Gibbons of the Ontario Clean Air Alliance, and the Ontario government is moving to empower citizens to be a real player in renewable energy production. There is a real battle on and most of us are not fully aware of what is at stake. It seems we have to take a political stand and make sure there is a government in Ontario that will not cave in to the nuclear industry. That means we have to have to understand how the micro feed program and community power fund mean for us. To get there, in the fist half hour we’ll talk to Jose Etcheverry, Assistant Prof. in the Faculty of Environmental Studies at York U. and president of the Canadian Renewable Energy Alliance. His current research is focused on renewable energy technology transfer, training and education, climate change and energy policy. In the second half hour we’ll take to Jack Gibbons, Chair of the Ontario Clean Air Alliance.
Currently we have to realities competing with each other: old generation relying on fossil fuel and nuclear generation and efficient, decentralized renewable energy production. The nuclear and fossil fuel entities are politically very powerful and hold sway over policy decisions.
On “our” side is the Community Power Fund which is s a unique program “… incorporated as a non-profit, co-operative corporation … governed by a 10 member Board of Directors.” It allows First Nation and community groups (housing co-ops for example) to structure and develop their own energy projects. The Micro Feed in Tariff program is designed as an added bonus that pays a premium rate for KW hours. Also in the mix is the Ontario Sustainable Energy Association, “ a province-wide, member-based, non-profit organization representing more than 1500 individuals including private citizens, cooperatives, farmers, First Nations, businesses, institutions and municipalities. OSEA members are engaged in or supporting Community Power projects and renewable energy.”
On the “other” side is the nuclear power industry with more than enough money to protect its interests and promote misinformation about renewable energy.