“Most of the carbon is emitted by coal-fired electricity generating plants.” – Premier Stelmach
Greater Use of Renewables
The bill proposes enacting a feed-in tariff (FIT) with pricing that will hopefully generate more investment in renewable energy by offering investors greater confidence in the profitability of projects and increasing their access to funding. The FIT will be modeled after Germany’s successful policy.
In addition to the FIT, the bill streamlines the approvals process for renewable energy projects and provides service guarantees for them. It also establishes a “right to connect” to the electricity grid for renewable energy projects.
To support local communities, the bill offers measures to assist developers of smaller community-owned generation facilities and also implements a smart grid in Ontario, with the aim of making it easier for renewables to connect to the system.
Finally homeowners would have access to incentives to develop small-scale renewables such as low- or no-interest loans to finance the capital cost of renewable energy generating facilities like solar panels.
According to Dave Butters, president of the Association of Power Producers of Ontario, member companies of which have installed much of Ontario’s renewable energy facilities so far, the bill will ensure that Ontario makes maximum use of renewable energy.
“A ‘best-in class renewable energy feed-in tariff’ combined with streamlined approvals processes and service guarantees has the potential to help Ontario to leap forward in terms of renewable energy capacity,” he said.
Energy Efficiency Measures
Currently, Ontarians spend just over CAN $7 billion [US $5.6 billion] each year on electricity to power their homes. A 10% efficiency savings would mean CAN $700 million more in the pockets of homeowners across the province. To that end, if the GEA passes, it would help individual consumers, businesses and public institutions take steps to increase energy efficiency in their facilities.
The bill makes energy efficiency a prominent aspect of Ontario’s Building Code by requiring, every 5 years, a review of the efficiency of any given building to identify areas that might be improved through better energy efficiency technology. Further, it establishes an advisory council to provide energy efficiency advice to the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing.
If passd, the bill would create the opportunity for consumers, public institutions and industry to better manage their energy use through various conservation initiatives, one of which may be the establishment of Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver as the standard for new government-owned buildings. It also would require the broader public sector, including municipalities, universities, colleges, schools and hospitals, to develop energy conservation plans.
In terms of household appliances and water use, the bill would require the use of Energy Star appliances as standard and require that households make efficient use of water. Homes would be required to have an energy audit prior to their sale, which some authorities say would put a “second price tag” on all homes sold in the province.
Local distribution companies would have mandatory conservation targets as well as incentives to help them achieve the targets. Ontarians living in low-income housing would also benefit from conservation measures targeted at that sector.
The proposed bill is estimated to create 50,000 jobs in Ontario in three years with its benefits sweeping across all communities. Employment will be in every sector,according to some analysts, from steel workers to lawyers, manufacturers and contractors.
Toronto-based Trillium Power Wind Corp., an offshore wind developer currently at work on a 710-MW facility in Lake Ontario, sees the plan as a step in the right direction.
“The Ontario government clearly recognizes that you need to make a long-term commitment to renewable energy in order to reap the economic benefits of a green economy,” said John Kourtoff, President and CEO of Trillium. “They are way ahead of the game on this, and Ontarians are going to significantly benefit from this transformational legislation.”
“Ontario’s Green Energy Act could propel the province past California as the most innovative North American leader in the renewable energy field,” saidRenewableEnergyWorld.com contributor Denis Hayes, former director of NREL and founder of Earth Day.
“This is the sort of healthy, friendly competition between Canada and the U.S. that will leave us both better off.”