July 31, 2006
Feeling the heat, Canadians are being reminded to dim the lights, turn down the air conditioning and join governments in embracing a culture of energy conservation.
While most critics agree people have good intentions, they say preserving fragile electricity resources remains a relatively low priority.
The call to conserve power is expected to be particularly urgent in Ontario this week, with 30C heat in the forecast.
Tom Adams, executive director of watchdog group Energy Probe, said while appeals to the public have been well-received, the strategy will eventually fall on deaf ears.
"As a long-term strategy to keeping the lights on, appeals to the public are likely to wear off," Adams says. "I don’t think we can expect consumers to be untiring when it comes to being asked to inconvenience themselves."
Bulbs don’t work
Adams and other critics say giveaway programs, such as fluorescent lightbulbs for households, fail to address key conservation issues.
Adams says customers negate the effects of the new energy efficient bulbs by leaving them on longer than normal bulbs.
Such programs, which are frequently endorsed by the provincial government, are impractical and ineffective, argues Ontario Conservative Leader John Tory.
"The fact we’ve had (power) demand that has reached new records or approached new records several times this year already speaks for itself in terms of whether you have created a culture of conservation."
Terry Young, communications director with Ontario’s Independent Electricity System Operator, says "there is a growing awareness of the importance of conserving."
He notes the IESO has not had to issue any requests to cut back on consumption this summer compared to 12 such occasions in 2005.
Adams attributes the improvement to an increased power supply and lower temperatures rather than better conservation practices.