Can we count on reliable electricity into the future?
Canadian electricity customers expect their electricity service to be reliable. This expectation is currently being met across the country. However, our system was mostly built in the past 30 to 60 years, and must now be renewed. We have an unprecedented opportunity to rebuild the electricity system to make it cleaner and more customer responsive, while maintaining the levels of reliability we have come to expect.
- Many parts of Canada’s electricity system are aging. According to an April 2011 Conference Board of Canada report, Canada needs to invest significantly in refurbished or new electricity infrastructure by 2030 in order to maintain system reliability. Such an investment will not only maintain the high levels of reliability that Canadian electricity customers have come to expect; it will also result in a cleaner, more efficient, more automated, and more customerfriendly electricity system where customers have more control over their usage.
- Canadians are increasingly dependent on electricity at home and at work. Even as we use electricity more efficiently, we continue to add to our demands — computers, flat screen TVs, mobile communications devices, plug-in hybrid electric cars, with new devices and applications added every year. It is only when we lose our electricity supply, as the northeastern part of the continent did in the 2003 blackout, that we truly appreciate how dependent we are on a reliable electricity supply.
- Electricity is a key element of our economy. Nationwide, electricity contributed $28.07 billion to our GDP in 2011, and the electricity sector made capital investments of $8.8 billion that year.
- In addition to renewing the transmission and distribution lines that deliver power to our homes, schools, hospitals, businesses and industries, we have many options for generating electricity. Virtually emission-free hydro and nuclear are available for meeting our base load, continuous needs; lower-emission fossil fuels and biomass are particularly suited to follow our electricity demands as they fluctuate throughout the day; and renewable forms of generation such as wind, solar, and tidal power are clean forms of generation that are available more intermittently.
- A national commitment to renewing our power system infrastructure will ensure that we maintain high levels of reliability, make our electricity supply even cleaner, and deliver electricity in ways that provide more benefits to customers. The North American electricity sector is being hampered by a lack of infrastructure investment at a time when it is asked to take on a more expansive mandate, like bringing electric vehicles onto the grid. Our renewed Canadian electricity system will continue to provide a critical energy source that increasingly powers our modern economy.