The Power Workers’ Union (PWU) is a proud Canadian Union, representing over 17,000 highly skilled and dedicated men and women in Ontario’s electricity sector. The largest Union in this industry, PWU Members are located throughout the province, keeping Ontario’s generating stations, electricity transmission and distribution systems, and telecommunication facilities running safely and efficiently. `PWU Members produce and deliver the reliable and safe electricity required to fuel Ontario’s homes and businesses.
“The Members of the PWU are your neighbours, friends, and family,” PWU President, Jeff Parnell, tells Business Elite Canada. “They are hard working, highly skilled Members of the community. They are dedicated to keeping Ontario’s lights on, working day and night, through storms, in situations of emergencies, as well as every day.”
The PWU has evolved dramatically since its inception in 1944, and particularly in the last 20 years. PWU has evolved from an organization that was originally designed to represent the employees of one company – Ontario Hydro – to a modern multi-faceted union that represents members at companies throughout Ontario in over 55 separate bargaining units.
PWU is the most successful union in Ontario’s energy sector. How did it get there? “Many things contribute to the success of the PWU,” says Parnell, “but if we had to narrow it down it would be three key things; our dedicated and skilled Membership who ensure power is delivered to Ontarians every day, our knowledgeable PWU Union Staff who advise and represent our Members, and ourr progressive and respective leadership team at the helm of the PWU.”
The PWU also stands out for its ability to be adaptive, recognizing the changes in the electricity sector and have embraced them. This has allowed the PWU to continue to grow and provide the best representation to its Members and to become leaders in the advocacy of the province’s electricity sector.
Ontario’s Environmental Stewardship
Ontario’s electrification-driven electricity demand should be a critical element of planning for Canada’s future low-carbon energy infrastructure requirements, says Parnell. Ontario’s low-carbon nuclear generation assets are well positioned to produce clean, low-cost hydrogen that will support fuel-switching in other sectors of the economy. Analysis shows that building new nuclear in Ontario is the best long-term solution for reducing emissions in the province.
“Nuclear is also well-suited as the foundation for an integrated low-carbon technology package that includes distributed storage capabilities and electrolytic hydrogen production,” he says. “This kind of integrated low-carbon solution facilitates the phased elimination of Ontario’s natural gas generation and reduces the total generation capacity required by the system, further reducing costs.”
The Urgent Generation Challenge
In the Electrification Pathways Report produced by Strategic Policy Economics on behalf of the PWU, the pressures of climate change and its impact on electricity planning is investigated and analyzed. Central to the study is how electrification and energy efficiency could impact the energy consumption in Ontario and in turn the province’s electricity system.
Six key findings of the report underscore the urgent need for a paradigm shift in Ontario’s electricity planning and approach to procurement of substantial generation capacity.
l Ontario faces an electricity supply shortage and reliability risks in the next four to eight years.
l Achieving Net Zero by 2050 will increase electricity demand by at least 130%.
l Leveraging electricity, natural gas and hydrogen synergies can reduce supply needs, but 55 GW of new electricity resource will still be needed by 2050 – four times Ontario’s current nuclear and hydro assets.
l Optimized integrated solutions could enable cost competitive technology options.
l Procurement must begin to avoid a supply shortage in 2030 and maximize emission reductions.
l Ontario needs a procurement process to optimize supply options and maximize societal benefits.
The PWU and Ontario’s Nuclear Future
Currently, the most important issue to the PWU is the impending capacity shortfall and ensuring government leaders and the public are aware of the of the need for immediate and substantial investments in the sector. “The most effective and popular strategies to reduce emissions result in greater electricity demand, making climate targets an important factor in electricity planning,” says Parnell. “Yet forecasts offer only limited consideration of the impact of climate on the province’s future electricity demand. Furthermore, stated strategies for meeting the forecast supply gap involve procuring greenhouse gas emitting natural gas-fired generation, entirely contrary to the province’s climate ambitions and that of many municipalities. Making sure Ontarians are aware of the capacity gap and the risks associated with inaction, coupled with low carbon solutions, such as Nuclear energy, are required to meet our climate goals as well as energy demands.”
“The PWU is committed to the following principles: create opportunities for sustainable, high-pay, high-skill jobs; ensure reliable, affordable, and environmentally responsible electricity; build economic growth for Ontario communities; and promote intelligent reform of Ontario’s energy policy,” says Parnell. “The PWU supports the development and construction of new nuclear generation, including Small Modular Reactors and large-scale nuclear generation facilities, and is involved in the lobbying of all levels of government to achieve this.”
For more information on the PWU, please visit www.pwu.ca