ATS update, and conservation in Ontario

Just want to point out two articles I wrote this past week in the Toronto Star.

The first takes a look at ATS Automation and the difficulty it could have spinning off its Photowatt Technologies solar business. When ATS announced it was spinning off Photowatt earlier in the year, the potential value of its Spheral Solar operaton — which makes flexible solar cells using a unique mass-manufacturing approach — was calculated into valuations. But ATS has had problems getting Spheral Solar up and running with reliable commercial product. More recently, it signalled it may have to shut down the Cambridge, Ontario, operation pending the outcome of a review due in January. If that happens, one must wonder how the market will received Photowatt’s IPO, given it would no longer have a unique technology to distinguish itself in an increasingly crowded and overheated solar market.

The second story has to do with an announcement by the Ontario government to expand three conservation pilot programs across the province. One program offers a discount to electricity customers that reduce their consumption below a certain threshold (based on a similar program in California), while another is a voluntary program that lets utilities remotely control (i.e. turn down/off) air conditioners and pool pumps during peak periods when electricity demand is high. The third program is a “fridge bounty” program — essentially, the government will pay to remove and recycle that old inefficient fridge in your basement, in hopes that more households will be encouraged to replace them with new, high-efficiency models.

It’s a good start. Now we just need a few dozen other programs like these to make a significant impact.

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