Green Energy Act will keep Ontario from being a "have not" province

Jun 2nd, 2008 9:45 AM

Green Energy Act will keep Ontario from being a "have-not" province

(Toronto, June 2, 2008) At Queen’s Park this morning, a broad coalition of farmers, environmentalists, First Nations and industry associations called upon the Province to create North America’s first Green Energy Act. The Act would build on recent successes and ensure Ontario does not become an energy “have-not” jurisdiction but rather a continent-wide leader.

This briefing is the first step in the Ontario Sustainable Energy Association campaign to inform Ontarians that this province could add 250,000 jobs and generate 31,000 MW of energy simply by importing technologies and processes already widespread in Europe.

“In 2006, the McGuinty government made Ontario the first jurisdiction in North America to adopt a highly successful policy for renewable energy called the Renewable Energy Standard Offer Program (RESOP). It was this action which makes this next step possible,” stated Kristopher Stevens, Chair of the Ontario Green Energy Act Steering Committee and the Executive Director of the Ontario Sustainable Energy Association.

The key goals of the Green Energy Act are to:

• Reinforce the commitment to conservation and renewable energy
• Establish a ‘roadmap’ to conservation and green energy and address gaps in the present plans including removing barriers to ensure renewables get on line
• Take advantage of the clean slate that is Ontario’s electricity system, which requires an estimated $60 billion to expand and repair the grid and bring on new generation
• Identify our opportunities and copy best practices to capitalize on them, just as we did with the RESOP

“Currently, Ontario ranks as the Canadian leader in renewable energy capacity in thanks largely to the RESOP, but drops to about 10th when ranked with American states. Over the past two years it has become evident that a more comprehensive policy framework is necessary to remove barriers preventing the development of projects and to unleash Ontario’s significant renewable energy potential,” Stevens stated.

An important contextual observation was made at the recent the Canadian/German Solar Trade Mission in Toronto by Gerhard Stryi-Hipp, Managing Director of the German Solar Association. “With a portfolio of renewable resources superior to that of Germany and the planned expenditure of $60 billion to evolve your system, there is no reason Ontario cannot match Germany as a leading source of renewable energy in North America, even worldwide.  Stryi-Hipp concluded by saying, “The RESOP implemented by the McGuinty Government was a landmark initiative for North America starting Ontario on the path to a renewable energy future. A Green Energy Act would make Ontario a global leader.”

Germany, the world leader in renewable energy generation and manufacturing, has more than 31,000 MW of installed renewable capacity, 250,000 people employed by the sector, an 18.5% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions (compared to 1990 levels) and a renewable energy manufacturing and generation sector turnover of more than $37 billion CAD last year. With this success, Germany may have the roadmap Ontario can follow to be a leader on this continent.

“A Green Energy Act would enable Premier Dalton McGuinty to realize his vision for renewable energy and conservation for Ontario,” stated Marion Fraser of Fraser and Company, former Policy Advisor to the Minister of Energy. “Germany’s roadmap to success was their Renewable Energy Sources Act that has allowed them to become the world’s renewable energy and green collar job leader in just twenty years,” Fraser emphasized.

“If we continue to invest in technologies that further destabilize our climate, we are going to pay a bigger and bigger price for heating and cooling,” says Jose Etcheverry, Research and Policy Analyst with the David Suzuki Foundation. “We’re chasing our tail when other countries like Germany and Spain are producing enough renewable energy to power all of Ontario, with much less renewable energy resources. They’re way ahead of us but with our abundant natural resources, we can catch up very quickly. We must remove existing barriers and enact policy that unleashes our huge renewable energy potential.”

“First Nations in Ontario see their role as facilitators and enablers of a green energy economy. Implementing the best policy possible to remove barriers and support renewable energy, conservation and local ownership means that the economic benefits are returned to Ontario communities by way of jobs, skills development and economic surpluses,” said Michael Fox, a founding Director of the First Nations Energy Alliance.

“A critical barrier facing many First Nations projects is the lack of grid access,” Fox observed.  “Renewable energy policies in many European jurisdictions empower and obligate the local utility to connect projects to the grid and to facilitate projects by building grid capacity where it is needed. First Nations in Ontario need a Green Energy Act that allows communities to develop projects by ensuring grid access and capacity.”

Kristopher Stevens concluded, “The Green Energy Act would ensure all existing barriers are removed. It would be accomplished by aligning the various relevant policies, mandates and administrations affecting renewable energy and conservation and ensure that the grid system was refurbished in such a way as to support renewables, load shifting and conservation. Similarly, local Ontario communities of First Nations, farmers and local organizations will be empowered through access to funding and capacity building to participate in the development and ownership of projects to their economic and social advantage.”

-30-

visit www.greenenergyact.ca

For more information, please contact Kristopher Stevens at (416) 977-4441, ext. 42 or GEA@ontario-sea.org.