Energy policies needed to help rebuild north

We heat with wood at our cabin on Rainy Lake.
The big wood stove in the centre of the cabin can throw enough heat to cause us to open windows to cool the inside—even when the temperature hovers below minus-30 C.
And we have never been able to burn more wood in a single year than what falls to the ground on the single acre of property.
I would like to claim that this is “green” energy. The blue-grey smoke from the fire drifts back over the island and provides a comforting feeling.
In suburban areas in Canada, wood-fired fireplaces are now being banned because of their pollution factors and homeowners are being asked to replace them with natural gas fireplace inserts.
It is considered “greener” technology. Natural gas burns cleaner and people who are allergic to the small particulate dust of wood fires are protected.
And the kids and people in those neighborhoods don’t have to breathe in the smoke.
Sometimes governments have to pave the way for the creation and use of new technologies. Ontario’s Liberal government, as part of its last election mandate, has promised the electorate it would reduce greenhouse gas emissions from our atmosphere.
To help accomplish this goal, Ontario is doing away with its core group of coal-fired thermal energy electrical power generating stations. It has planned the phasing out of these low-cost electrical generating stations and replacing those stations with new “green” energy plants.
Wind turbines, solar energy panels, and hog fuel electrical generating units are replacing those old coal-fired plants.
The McGuinty Liberals have made the commitment to make Ontario a “greener” province. To make that happen, the province has offered a big carrot to these new energy-producing companies.
They have asked Ontario Hydro to purchase the power at 80 cents/kWh when today’s energy is being produced by nuclear, hydroelectric, and coal-fired electrical plants for less than one-quarter of that cost. In fact, nuclear power plants produce electricity for the grid for only four cents/kWh.
Ontario Hydro has to make money and, as a result, has raised power rates to residential, commercial, and industrial users by huge amounts. And Ontario consumers can expect to see their rates grow by another 46 percent over the next five years.
In previous years, energy was exempted from provincial sales tax and GST. Those exemptions disappeared with the introduction of the HST last July 1.
And in the next week, every household in Rainy River District will receive a flyer the province has spent more than $1 million on explaining how residents will receive a 10 percent rebate on their hydro bill to offset price increases.
It will come as an energy credit.
In Northwestern Ontario, we already produce more “green” energy through hydroelectric dams than we can use. Yet we, too, will help subsidize this change to “greener” electrical energy.
Opposition parties have been pushing to use this excess power to attract new industries to Northwestern Ontario, such as the chromate smelter to the region by giving the smelter lower electrical rates.
Just as previous governments used cheap electrical power to attract paper-making companies to the northwest, a similar program could be used to assist new mine production and lower cost processing fees to attract secondary processing of the area’s minerals.
It also would help rebuild the populations in northern communities.
Just as offering new technologies great subsidies to establish new “green” electrical generating facilities, the government could develop another policy that uses surplus northern electricity to attract industries.

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