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How to guarantee that all Ontarians share in clean, green community power

Monday, October 23rd 2006 8:34:38am

Deb Doncaster

(Toronto, October 23, 2006) Ontario is poised to launch a unique program in North America―a renewable energy, Standard Offer Program (SOP)―initiated and driven by the Ontario Sustainable Energy Association (OSEA) to provide communities, farmers and individuals with an opportunity to generate green power for Ontario.  But OSEA’s members, who represent over 30 communities across the province and have, over the past three years, been campaigning for a community power SOP, were excluded from the province’s bidding process.  

For OSEA, community power is locally developed and locally owned renewable energy generation which maximizes the public/local benefits, and therefore public/local acceptance, of renewable energy technologies.  As renowned wind guru and OSEA’s policy advisor Paul Gipe often states, “Your own pigs don’t stink.”  This means that farmers, municipalities and communities, given the opportunity to own wind turbines or biogas digesters directly, will be more receptive of renewable energy projects and technologies, because the associated social and economic benefits stay within the local community.  These benefits include jobs, investment income, project fees, new social networks, and tourism dollars, as well as broader benefits, such as a reducing our need for fossil and nuclear power.

The SOP campaign launched by OSEA was always intended to support both the private and community power sectors.  But OSEA is concerned that critical components of the program necessary for the community power sector to participate may not be included when the program is launched in early November.

OSEA’s consistent message is that the SOP must include a revolving loan fund for the community power sector; inflation indexing set at a minimum of 60% to send a strong signal to investors that the SOP offers a secure investment; and, a system of tiered pricing that would enable communities with good resource potential to still participate.

Only the private sector can move around the province to resource intensive sites, while the community power sector is limited to developing where they are located.  Prices must be set to allow lower prices in higher resource areas and higher prices in lower (but still productive) resource areas.

OSEA commends the Government of Ontario for taking a leadership role in bringing an SOP to North America.  We urge the Government to launch the program at the anticipated time in November and to include the critical components necessary to enable the community power sector to participate in supplying green energy to Ontario.

Community power is good for people and good for energy policy.

Deb Doncastor is Executive Director of the Ontario Sustainable Energy Association

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Standard Offer Contract