By Shannon Wilmot
Last June’s announcements by Ontario energy minister Dwight Duncan left many questioning what role conservation and green power will play in the province’s energy future. The goal of closing Ontario’s four remaining coal-fired plants by 2009 was scrapped, and the government is about to invest more than $40 billion in building two new nuclear plants and refurbishing existing plants. Around the same time, one municipality was celebrating its first month using 100 percent clean power. The town of Caledon is bullfrog powered – an energy alternative gaining popularity around the province.
Caledon has a reputation for being green, and in May, Caledon town hall became the first municipal building in Ontario powered by green electricity. Bullfrog power is the first electricity retailer in Ontario to sell power produced exclusively by wind and low-impact hydroelectric generation. Since its launch in September 2005, bullfrog power has attracted more than 1,000 residential customers and more than 60 corporate customers, including Wal-Mart Canada and royal bank of Canada.
Bullfrog customers continue to draw from Ontario’s electricity grid; the company is simply meeting customers’ energy demands by supplying the grid with a matching amount of renewable and non-polluting power. Some of the green power sources helping keep the lights on at Caledon town hall are sky generation’s wind turbine on the Bruce Peninsula and some of Brookfield Power’s hydr0electric facilities. These, like all bullfrog Power’s sources, are EcoLogo certified by environment Canada. Sara Peckford, Caledon’s environmental progress officer, says the town projects that it will decrease its carbon dioxide emissions by 125 tonnes a year.
Says Tom Heintzman, president of Bullfrog Power, “Customers have the comfort of knowing two things. First of all that all their electricity usage is being matched by power going to the grid. And second of all that their money is going to support renewable energy sources.” To make sure that enough green power will be produced, bullfrog invests in expanding current sources and developing new ones.
But should customers be concerned about bullfrog’s ability to meet customer demands? Peckford points out that the company is independently audited every year to ensure that the power it supplies matches the power bullfrog customers demand. Says Peckford, “I am quite confident bullfrog power is making the right forecast to ensure they have enough power.” Heintzman explains that bullfrog power also performs a monthly self-evaluation and forecasts business growth a few years ahead of time. This will prove important as the number of bullfrog customers grows and additional municipalities express interest in making the switch.
As long as energy sources and environmental sustainability continue to be issues of concern to Ontarians, demand for bullfrog power will no doubt continue to rise.