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Alliance slams Ontario government decision to repeal Green Energy Act

Steve Rogerson
October 3, 2018
 
The Renewable Energy Alliance of Ontario (REAO) has attacked the state government’s decision to repeal the Green Energy Act, saying it may deny Ontarians the opportunity to benefit from low-cost renewable power generation in the future.
 
The government introduced legislation last month to repeal the act, passed by the previous Liberal government in 2009 to increase use of solar and wind power. But the REAO said in a statement: “Keeping our bills low, ensuring that communities support energy projects in their communities, and supporting jobs and suppliers here in Ontario should be the bedrock of the government’s approach on energy.”
 
It said that renewable energy was now cost-competitive with other forms of generation, harnessing naturally occurring and abundant wind, sun and water resources. It is also supported by many municipalities and indigenous communities, enabling farmers to gain supplementary income and neighbours to help lower their electricity bills.
 
The renewable energy industry welcomes initiatives that encourage private sector competition, and those that will make for a more reliable, community-accepted and affordable energy system.
 
The Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) has recently identified an energy capacity shortfall of 1400MW starting in 2023 – enough energy to power over 900,000 homes during hot summer days. Ontario could benefit greatly from competitively-sourced zero fuel cost renewable energy, as long as opportunities exist to harness these resources.
 
“Falling back into relying on dirty, expensive technologies is the wrong approach,” said the REAO statement.
 
Mike Gallagher, business manager for IUOE Local 793, added: “We believe that, as more energy resources will be needed in the future, renewable energy can provide low cost solutions to achieve greater affordability for customers. Green energy is a low-cost healthy alternative to traditional forms of energy generation. The Green Energy Act removed barriers and provided opportunities that allowed the renewable energy sector to flourish, bringing good jobs in construction and maintenance and investment into the province. We hope that similar opportunities are not lost in the future, and that the province remains open to renewable energy.”
 
The price of renewable technologies has declined in recent years. For example, the weighted average cost of recent procurements of wind energy in Alberta was 3.7 cents/kWh, less than other sources of supply in Ontario. Solar prices are meeting grid parity, with new technologies such as storage declining in cost and increasing in efficiency.
 
"Ontario has benefited, both economically and environmentally, from the development of renewable energy projects," said Kim Jarvi, senior economist for the Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario. "Investing in renewables has improved air quality across the province. An independent assessment conducted by Toronto Public Health in 2014 suggests that improvements in Ontario's air quality have translated into significant health benefits for Ontario residents, reducing air pollution-related premature deaths by 23 per cent and hospital admissions by 41 per cent in Toronto alone."
 
Studies have indicated that adding 1000MW of wind energy between now and 2030 would create 7000 full time jobs. Furthermore, by 2030 wind energy will have stimulated more than $14bn in economic activity, including $650mn flowing directly into local economies. The industry employs thousands of Ontarians, who work as project managers, engineers, technicians, tradespersons, service providers and advisors.
 
“If renewable energy is used to meet future power needs, rather than the province relying on antiquated assets and expensive imports that benefit other jurisdictions, Ontario could maintain and create thousands of new jobs in communities right across the province,” said the statement. “Indeed, harnessing and supporting advancements in renewable technologies is a significant competitive advantage for Ontario. Dozens of companies across the province are actively working on innovation and processes that will create jobs and new export opportunities for Ontario-based companies to access markets around the world. Renewable energy generation and product manufacturing are important aspects of Ontario’s economy and should be further leveraged for continued growth and prosperity.”
 
Brandy Giannetta, Ontario regional director for the Canadian Wind Energy Association, added: “Today’s green energy projects are making significant contributions to Ontario’s economy. They are providing long-term, stable pricing for Ontario ratepayers and are an important source of sustained revenue for municipal and indigenous partners. Ontario is going to need new non-emitting electricity generation in the 2020s and renewable energy is the best option for ensuring that generation is affordable, reliable and clean, while attracting jobs and investment and helping local communities thrive.”