The power of going clean

Ontario Power Generation's new awareness campaign touts its move away from coal-burning plants.


Ontario Power Generation, the government-owned body responsible for the majority of electricity generated in the province, has launched a new campaign touting its recent move to cleaner power.

Launched last week, 30- and 60-second TV spots by KBS Toronto show people using electricity for the things that not only matter most to them, but are important for their future, such as exercise, studying, late-night baseball practice or proposing to their significant other. A voiceover explains OPG’s recent advancements in clean energy that play a role in that future.

At one point, Ontario Power Generation’s coal-burning plants were cited as being among Canada’s biggest contributors to air pollution, especially the Nanticoke Generating Station, which was the largest coal-burning power plant in North America. But between 2003 and 2014, all coal power plants in Ontario were phased out and OPG, which is responsible for roughly half of electricity generated in the province, now operates off of a combination of nuclear, hydroelectric, biomass and wind, as well as a pair of gas-powered stations. This, the organization says, means 99.7% of the power it produces is free from smog and greenhouse gases.

“This was an important initiative to the province, but we found the general public wasn’t aware that this step had been taken,” says Ted Gruetzner, VP of corporate relations and communications at Ontario Power Generation. “This was intended to increase awareness and to drive people to our website so they can find out more about us and the clean energy we produce, as well as how we regulate power in Ontario and help keep bills down.”

Gruetzner says focusing on its own operations is somewhat new for the company, which has primarily done a lot of public messages promoting safety around its generation stations, especially around dams and hydroelectric stations. This year, it has also been promoting the ways it brings value to consumers by helping to regulate electricity prices, and Gruetzner says highlighting the role OPG plays in the environment is an extension of that.

Matt Hassell, CCO at KBS Toronto, says the idea was to take a big message with little public awareness and make it personal.

“We focused on the future and what’s important to the individual, instead of just making it about explaining what the big picture means,” he says. “That’s why we took these vignettes where people are focused more on their future, even though electricity was being used around them, because hopefully that makes it more relevant.”