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WEB EXCLUSIVE – APPrO conference 2009 Report


December 6, 2009
By Anthony Capkun

The Association of Power Producers of Ontario (APPrO) recently held its annual conference. Entitled “The Power to Transform”, the 21st annual Canadian Power Conference and Networking Centre tackled the issue: “For the electric power sector, the major challenges of the day revolve around implementing and resolving the potentially conflicting expectations for change and reliability”.

APPrO (Association of Power Producers of Ontario) is a non-profit
organization representing more than 100 companies involved in the
generation of electricity in Ontario, including generators and
suppliers of services, equipment and consulting services. Its members
produce power from co-generation, hydro-electric, gas, coal, nuclear,
wind energy, waste wood and other sources. The association’s membership
currently produces over 95% of the electricity in Ontario.

Conference organizers explain: “The traditional responsibilities of
delivering affordable, dependable service must be reconciled with major
expansion during a period of economic constraint, while playing a
leading role in the global fight against climate change. At the same
time, innovation in the regulatory framework and the integration of
smart technology are not just parallel considerations but fundamental
determinants of the business and physical models that will be needed to
enable efficient investment. The process of developing models is well
underway, although resolution of the competing priorities is a
continuing challenge.”

While EBMag worked the exhibit hall, Green Business’ editor, Rob
Colman, checked out the keynote address delivered by Roger Gale, who is
the president and CEO of GF Energy LLC. Gale discussed his vision of
the power industry in 10 years, though he did spend much of time posing
questions rather than answering them.

The first—and perhaps main—thing he noted, however, were the inconsistencies in the marketplace.

“We have Ontario closing coal-fired plants and on the other side of the
lake [U.S.] companies announcing plans to build a new fleet of
coal-fired plants,” he said. “We have advanced metering in some
markets, although none of those markets are using advanced metering to
the extent it could be used. At the same time, we’ve got plenty of
other markets that don’t even have plans to put in advanced meters.”

Probably the biggest challenge Gale sees for the North American market
is the inability to charge customers what electricity is worth.

“We have in place everywhere in North America an extraordinarily
artificial, inefficient and non-complying system of charging people for
electricity,” Gale pointed out. “We don’t do it in ways that
incentivize change, we don’t do it in ways to incentivize customers to
change behaviour. We still have enormous subsidies. We have a poorly
thought-through system of legacy electricity pricing that nearly no
political jurisdiction in North America is ready to tinker with, let
alone revolutionize. And until we get to the point where we can have
dynamic pricing—which advanced metering and new technologies allow—will
people pay what it really costs.”

Gale believes that new baseload generation capacity will have to be
built in North America in the next 10 years, but also believes we are
moving to a more dispersed generating pattern. In many places, with
concerns about dirty coal, Gale sees the future issue being a
“renewables versus natural gas” debate.

The keynote speaker also pointed out some of the transmission problems
(smart or otherwise) inherent in renewables. “Who is going to pay for
all the remote connections to wind and solar? This is an issue that is
not resolved anywhere, and to the extent that we’ve moved down the road
of building more wind and solar, and other remote technologies… the
costs of transmission are huge relative to the amount of power that
comes from it.”

To learn more of Gale’s keynote address, which also delves into wind
farm siting, energy storage and more, CLICK HERE to check out Rob
Colman’s full report at Green Business.

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