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Ontario Ponders Electricity Reform: Still Optomistic Despite Setbacks, Bad Press

Fortnightly Magazine - July 1 1998

our supply and demand. And they'd be free to participate in the market at the beginning of the year 2000, just like anyone else.

B.C. [British Columbia] is moving forward but they have a socialist government right now, so they're more concerned with what the labor movement wants than what business wants, I guess is the way to put it. To be fair, that's what they were elected on, so they're doing what their mandate was. So they've slowed down; they had great plans to restructure.

In Alberta, clearly in the opinion of those at the independent power producers meeting, the vast majority of those felt they'll be forced into a competitive market, with California and Washington state right below them - they'll be the lone person out if they're not careful. Alberta plans to go wholesale for the next couple of years, but I don't fully understand their plan because they have a 20-year phase-in for a mature market.

Quebec is being very aggressive about bringing on new capacity and clearly they don't need that capacity themselves, so they must be gearing up to be competitive in Ontario and in the U.S.

Lori M. Rodgers is a contributing editor to Public Utilities Fortnightly.

Will Consumers Win?

Maybe Not. Some Might Even Be Out of Work.

JOHN GRANT, vice chair of the Market Design Committee, speaking to the Association of Major Power Consumers of Ontario, said that while the cost of operating the system should be lower, there might be the possibility that an end user's overall cost could rise at first, when stranded costs are added, "but it's premature to say."

The impact on jobs in the region also is unclear. Minister Wilson said, "The estimates are that over the next 10 to 15 years, between $8-$12 million in new investment in this province in electricity. We also expect a significant number of new jobs, if the U.S. model is any indication. I understand that employment has doubled in that sector, a lot of that on the marketing side."

However, David Lindsay of the Ontario Jobs and Investment Board told AMPCO members in April, that he doesn't deny that there also will be some job loss if any of the laid up nuclear plants ultimately are shutdown, rather than restarted. The end result, Lindsay said, is expected to be an improved economy, and although there will be some "dislocation," there should be a net gain of jobs "at the end of the day."

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