Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Paying Loblaws to Save Money?

I'm sure it makes sense somewhere, but did you know that Loblaws gets paid to save hydro?

Yep, it's true. Those lights that go off and air conditioners turned down at its 110 stores in Ontario result not only in savings to the company, but also a cash payment by the Ontario Power Authority.

As reported in the Toronto Star, something called the IESO (http://www.ieso.ca/) got the grocery giant to sign a "'demand-response' agreement with the province back in 2005 promising, in exchange for payment, to cut its electricity use by 10 megawatts when given three-hours notice by the Ontario Power Authority."

Other companies can sign up too, and the power authority hopes they do. As their spokesman says: "Unlike existing voluntary programs, participants sign a contract obliging them to reduce or shift their electricity use during a power crisis in exchange for payment."

I'm all for managing our power system. I'm without power at home at the moment myself (see below), and no one wants Toronto to get even more like the third world than it already is with regular brownouts, but do we really need to pay companies like Loblaws to save money on power?

Of course, paying people to do what is in their own and everyone else's best interests is typically Canadian, rather than simply having someone at Loblaw's switch threatening to pull it if they don't cut back.