September 27, 2020

BY MARK FITZGERALD

The City of Guelph has come to a crossroads with the Ontario Power Authority (OPA) over the energy being supplied to citizens.

In 2007 the City of Guelph developed the Community Energy Plan, which is an outline on how to supply the city with self-sustainable energy. The plan calls for the use of energy sources such as solar and geothermal.

The plan is designed to account for the population growth of the city for at least the next two decades.

The plan states that the greenhouse gas emissions of Guelph will be less than the current global average. It also states that by 2031, the energy efficiency levels of the city will be equal to the current global best from Scandinavia and Germany.

However, Jack Gibbons, chair for Ontario Clean Air Alliance (a group of individuals and organizations that are pro-renewable energy), said the OPA is refusing to fund the plan, in part because they want to build a new high-voltage transmission line into Guelph instead.

“They are refusing to enter into contracts with the City of Guelph. They want to do it their way. They’re stuck in the 1950s,” he said.

Gibbons also said people need to start demanding that this plan be put into action. He suggested people call Energy Minister Chris Bentley and Guelph MPP Liz Sandals to voice their opinion on what type of energy plan they want.

“It (the Community Energy Plan) is an excellent plan. It’s a blueprint for Ontario, for Canada, and for the world in the 21st century,” Gibbons said.

He added the plan will not make Guelph completely self-sustainable at first. However, it will provide the city with the necessary setup to eventually reach that level.

Some attempts to conserve energy are already underway.

A program run by the Toronto Hydro Corporation is already in place to help reduce energy consumption. Called the “peaksaver” program, it is for all of Ontario and dials back air conditioners during hot summer days for brief periods. But this is only being used by three per cent of Guelph Hydro users.

Gibbons said people don’t quite understand the “lower cost and higher efficiency of renewable energy.”

Guelph city council is currently looking to approve the Community Energy Plan. Even if it gets approved, it will still require funding from the OPA.

The media relations officer with the Ontario Power Authority did not respond to repeated attempts for comment by press time.