Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Times Are Changing

A series of links, which form a coherent theme:

Conserving electricity:
Consumption is dropping faster than at any previous time and the province is ahead of the conservation target it set three years ago, Peter Love, chief energy conservation officer with the Ontario Power Authority, said in an interview.

From 2005 to 2007, Ontario's total consumption fell by 2.6 per cent to 150,8906 gigawatt hours, and the average for each person dropped by 4.6 per cent to 11,725 kilowatt hours. Both figures are adjusted for changes in the weather.

In addition, last year's weather-adjusted peak demand – the highest recorded use of electricity, a hot day when air conditioners were cranked up – was 24,820 megawatts, which was 1,462 megawatts below the amount forecast a couple of years ago by the Independent Electricity System Operator, the provincial agency that controls the flow of electricity.

That beat Queen's Park's first-stage goal – a reduction of 1,350 megawatts – for the first three years of its plan to cut peak demand by 6,300 megawatts by 2025.

"We have a lot of work to do. We're looking to create a culture of conservation

SUV sales tanking:
When automakers report sales numbers for May today, the 26% decline in U. S. sales of SUVs in the first four months of this year is expected to turn into a deep dive...

Others, like Ford Motor Co., believe that permanency has arrived. The days of consumers buying big pickups and big SUVs if they don't need them to transport goods or haul trailers is over, Ford sales analyst George Pipas said. "We don't think those people are coming back."

Bad news, but really not surprising:
General Motors Corp. is shutting four North American plants making pickup trucks and sport utility vehicles, including its pickup line in Oshawa, eliminating about 1,000 Canadian jobs.

Chief executive Rick Wagoner told a media conference that ``recent developments on the global oil scene have forced us to take additional actions."

Higher gasoline prices represent "a structural change, not just a cyclical change," Wagoner said.

"It is, by and large, permanent."

And, what are people buying?:
Although hybrid cars account for only about 3% of U.S. car sales, their share is growing rapidly. Sales of hybrid cars surged 25% during the first four months of this year compared with the same period last year. And the pace accelerated last month, when sales jumped 58%. That outpaced the overall April sales gain of 18% for small fuel-efficient cars and comes as total new-vehicle sales are slumping.

I hope the Liberal plan considers the already changing dynamics.


Mark Dowling said...

the problem with the Canadian auto industry is that it doesn't build hybrids, or least not many - Ford in Oakville I think is the only one, with Honda and Toyota hybrids being shipped in from Japan or Kentucky (Camry).

Most of the Japanese automakers continue to making hybrids or fuel cell vehicles back home which is smart. If the Ontario government can't find a way to persuade the various car companies to make hybrids then not only is the future of vehicle plants uncertain but Canada will face a widening import gap - especially as cities make bylaws like the BC cities that say all new taxis must be hybrid.

The Mound of Sound said...

That's a really welcome story, Steve. We need to see tangible signs of shifts in public attitudes and behaviours.

You won't find much discussion of this at senior political levels but a big part of the answer is for the public to get "smaller." Since the end of WWII, for example, the square footage of new houses has doubled - more electricity for lighting, more fuel for heating, more appliances, more everything. Smaller houses, smaller cars and a lot more will be coming and, here's the best part, we're now finding that people can be just as happy, every bit as satisfied, without having stuff they don't really want anyway.



Anonymous said...

Reduced fuel consumption needs to be legislated.

A hybrid Hummer is still a gas pig.

Steve V said...


Well, when McGuinty is doling out this money to bailout the auto industry, it should come with strings attached, i.e. production of fuel efficient vehicles.

JimmE said...

I can't put my hands on the article but the Rocky Mountain Institute's Amory Lovins wrote a great piece for Scientific American (Nov '06?) about how conservation efforts pay off bigger than renewables. In pretty clear prose & equations he claims a 100W saving is not just the 100W but the saving of the lost potential energy. These losses can be up to 90% of the potential energy through transmission, friction, waste heat, & inefficiency. Therefore every watt we save, has a knock-on effect so much larger than is commonly understood.
A further example of conservation neglected is embodied energy, ie. the bricks, floors, roofs & windows in existing buildings. Some calculations I've see show replacing 100 year old casement windows with new vinyl windows vs repairs to the old window can take more than 100 years to net a payback. Most vinyl windows don't last 20 years!
We need to elocute some of these - and other ideas on the environmental file & put into legislation. Steve & the Ditto Heads don't get it.

Steve V said...


That's interesting.