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2006 03 27
Power Line

Premier Dalton McGuinty has recently announced a plan to subsidize homeowners and businesses that use renewable energy sources such as solar panels and wind turbines. This program is a first for Canada and is intended to move Ontario closer to alleviating its dependency on fossil fuels.

While memories of the August 2003 blackout may be getting fuzzier by the day, Ontarians and big city dwellers are acutely aware of the fragility of our energy generation and distribution system. Every time you plug in the toaster there is a feeling of dread that as soon as the slider goes down, the system will go over the edge.

The insecurity we feel in regards to the dependability of our utilities is in stark contrast to the post- WWII period of the 1950’s when electricity was seen as the force that would deliver us into the modern world. People were supremely optimistic about technology and the abundance of natural resources so why shouldn’t every product you own require a socket?

In 1956, in an effort to fan the growing demand for electricity, General Electric launched the “Live Better Electrically” campaign in the US. At that time, Ronald Reagan was the host of “General Electric Theatre” and became the face of modern electric living by giving TV tours of his all-electric California home.

In 1957, GE initiated the “Medallion Homes” program which had the goal of selling 20,000 all-electric homes by 1958 and increasing that number to almost 1 million by 1970. A demonstration Gold Medallion Home was built as part of the 1958 Canadian National Exhibition and drew in huge crowds. To achieve “Gold” status, a home had to have an electric clothes washer and dryer, waste disposal, refrigerator and all-electric heating.

Looking back 50 years, we can chuckle at the promotional bravado of selling an all-electric house but we can also admire the enthusiastic embrace of new technology to improve quality of life. The “Living Better Electrically” campaign makes us ask if the McGuinty government is offering enough incentive through monetary advantage alone. Or do they need to create more effective promotion through the building of demonstration homes and renewable energy neighbourhoods?

Perhaps all it would take is a well-known TV personality and a cool gold medallion to sweeten the deal.
[email this story] Posted by moimoi design on 03/27 at 03:57 AM

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