February 23, 2009

The Green Energy Act – A Preliminary Analysis

Ontario’s Energy and Infrastructure Minister, George Smitherman, publicly released his proposed Green Energy Act today. The proposed Green Energy Act is a very positive step forward on Ontario’s road to a renewable electricity future. 

But the Government needs to do much more to promote energy conservation and efficiency.

In addition, the proposed Green Energy Act needs to be amended to make it illegal for nuclear power companies to pass their capital cost overruns on to Ontario’s long-suffering electricity consumers and taxpayers.

In this bulletin we will highlight some of the key features of the Green Energy Act and outline the additional actions that are needed to green Ontario’s economy and protect Ontario’s electricity consumers and taxpayers.

Key Features of the Green Energy Act

1. The Act will create a feed-in-tariff or fixed price for all renewable power projects in Ontario.

2. The Act will streamline the approvals process for renewable energy projects.

3. The Act will create mandatory electricity conservation targets for Ontario’s municipal electric utilities (e.g., Newmarket Hydro, Toronto Hydro).

Additional actions that are needed to green Ontario’s economy and protect Ontario’s electricity consumers and taxpayers

1. Minister Smitherman must direct the Ontario Power Authority (OPA) to dramatically increase its funding for our municipal electric utilities’ energy conservation and efficiency programmes. To date for every dollar that the OPA has spent on energy conservation, it has contracted for $60 of new electricity generation capacity.

2. Ontario must stop wasting natural gas. Virtually every residential, commercial, institutional and industrial natural gas consumer in Ontario uses natural gas to provide only one service, namely heating. It is much more efficient to use these same molecules of natural gas to simultaneously produce heat and power. Combined heat and power (CHP) plants can have energy efficiencies of 80 to 90% versus the 33% energy efficiency of a nuclear reactor. By reducing the demand for grid-supplied electricity, CHP plants can make it easier for Ontario to move to a future where all of our grid-supplied electricity comes from renewable sources. Minister Smitherman should direct the OPA to immediately establish a feed-in-tariff for all CHP projects in Ontario. That is, a feed-in-tariff which will pay homeowners, institutions and businesses to self-generate some or all of their electricity requirements.

3. To date the OPA has signed over 450 contracts for renewable energy with individuals, co-ops, First Nations communities and private sector developers. None of these contracts allow the renewable energy suppliers to pass their capital cost overruns on to Ontario’s electricity consumers or taxpayers. On the other hand, Minister Smitherman is planning to give the nuclear industry a blank cheque to build two new nuclear reactors at the Darlington Nuclear Station despite the fact that every nuclear project in Ontario’s history has gone over budget. The Green Energy Act should make it illegal for nuclear power companies to pass their cost overruns on to Ontario’s long-suffering electricity consumers and taxpayers.

Please pass this message on to your friends.

Thank you.

Jack Gibbons, Chair
Ontario Clean Air Alliance
402-625 Church St, Toronto M4Y 2G1
Phone: 416-926-1907 ext. 240
Fax: 416-926-1601
Email: jack@cleanairalliance.org
Website: www.cleanairalliance.org
Website: www.OntariosGreenFuture.ca