Catastrophic Climate Change: We Caused It; We're Going to Have to Fix It.
Greening the Grid
The less GHG emissions your local electrical grid creates to provide you with electricity, the better
for reducing climate change impacts. You may think you don't have any control over this, but in fact, you could have.
You could choose to create your own household grid and disconnect from the utility. In that case, you can
choose to go (net) zero GHGs in your energy sources (solar, wind, micro-hydro, micro-cogen, biofuels ...).
This isn't for everyone, but it is possible.
In some jurisdictions, you can install photovoltaic panels or wind turbines and supply zero-GHG electricity
to your local grid - usually off-setting your consumption to reduce your annual electricity bill.
You can engage with local utility decision-makers to encourage them to reduce their use of carbon-based
fossil-fuels in their primary energy mix for electricity generation, or install local storage so that
cleaner energy is banked when demand is low and used as supply when demand is high. There are a lot of
factors which go into such decisions, but in many places they don't include climate change impact costing,
health impacts, pollution damage, supply line risk (what if a natural gas pipeline goes out of service) ...
The lowest price input does not mean it is the lowest cost option for your community when related
consequences are taken into account. Are you in favour of saving 0.001% on your electricity bill if the
trade-off is a 5% increase in respiratory diseases in your neighbourhood? You can make your priorities known.
Also, with drops in the price of renewables - especially solar, wind and storage - in the past 2 years,
these may be the most cost-effective options in your area now. Make sure your decision-makers are making
financial decisions based on current prices, not 5-year-old data.
You can support organizations which are putting clean energy on the grid, like the
Ottawa Renewable Energy Coop (OREC).
You can also figure out the typical load profile for your local electricity supplier, and choose to use less
electricity when fossil fuels are being used and more when renewables are being used. In my area, natural gas
'peaker' plants are used to meet peak demand, while wind power is typically generating more electricity at
night. Which means you could choose to charge your electric cars, backup power batteries, tool batteries
and run heavy electrical loads (e.g. clothes dryer) when overall electrical demand is low. (For example,
on Friday, April 12, 2019 at midnight, electricical demand in Ontario was so low that the wholesale price was
negative 3 cents a kWh, and generation from fossil fuels was at 'stand-by' level. Using
electricity in this situation is effectively zero-GHG energy. This happens many times a year at off-peak
demand times in Ontario.