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Ontario’s Renewables Announcement Good News But is OPA Listening?

Tuesday, August 28th 2007 4:53:17pm

Attn: News/Energy Editors and Reporters

    For further information contact:
    Kristopher Stevens, OSEA, 416-977-4441
    Paul Gipe, OSEA, 416-977-5093

RE:  MoE Directive on 2000 MW of Renewables

August 28, 2007

Ontario’s Renewables Announcement Good News But is OPA Listening?

(Toronto, Canada)  The government’s directive to the Ontario Power Authority to acquire 2,000 MW of new sources of renewable energy is good news for Ontarians and good news for the environment.

Better yet, the government has directed the OPA to contract for 500 MW of new renewables by the end of 2007.

Can it be done? Absolutely.

There is only one way for the OPA to contract that much capacity in such a short time at a fair price for Ontarians: the province’s groundbreaking Standard Offer Contract program. Through the Standard Offer program the OPA can quickly reach hundreds of eager renewable energy developers.

Within less than one year the OPA has already contracted for 500 MW of new capacity from wind, hydro, biogas, and solar photovoltaics under this precedent-setting program. All the OPA has to do is lift the voltage cap and the project size cap strangling the existing program. It’s simple, it’s quick, and the OPA already has the authority under this and previous directives.

But is the OPA listening? Are they willing?

That remains to be seen.

Farmers, First Nations, homeowners, cooperatives and other stakeholders have been calling on the OPA to take immediate action to correct defects in the Standard Offer program. The OPA has failed to do so despite acknowledging they have the authority to act if they wished.

For example, Ontario could bring on hundreds of new renewable projects if they simply increased the price paid for solar, biogas, and wind energy and opened up the distribution and transmission systems to more renewable energy.

Although the Ontario government has clearly and repeatedly said that the Standard Offer program was intended to encourage community development of renewable energy projects, the OPA’s design and implementation of the program has made this difficult if not impossible.

The promise of Ontario’s Standard Offer program is not being met. The OPA must take immediate corrective action to keep Ontario’s Standard Offer program at the forefront of renewable energy policy in North America.

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Background

OSEA led the campaign for Advanced Renewable Tariffs that led to Ontario’s Standard Offer program, the first of its kind in North America.

Though Ontario’s program is the most progressive renewable energy policy in North America, it falls well short of similar programs in Europe. In the case of solar energy, Ontario ranks near the bottom of similar programs worldwide.

Ontario’s government has remained committed to the Standard Offer program. Both Premier Dalton McGuinty and Minster of Energy Dwight Duncan have repeatedly endorsed the program and cited it as a groundbreaking policy for North America.

Premier McGuinty stated in a speech to the Ontario Energy Association his objective for the program ". . . we are encouraging homeowners, farmers, schools and community co-ops to set up renewable energy systems by letting them sell clean power to the grid. . . Over the long term, it could add thousands of megawatts of renewable power to our system."[1]

As recently as April 2007, Minister Duncan described his ministry’s desire to modify Ontario’s Standard Offer Contract program to “Find the right mechanism to spread the use of wind across the province.” And to the many challenges facing the program he added “. . . we will bring the barriers down.”[2]

OSEA has undertaken an extensive examination of the Standard Offer program and will be issuing a report on the program sometime in September.


[1] Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty, Ontario Energy Association annual meeting, September 14, 2005, http://www.wind-works.org/FeedLaws/Premier%20Dalton%20McGuinty%20Endorses%20SOCs.html .
[2] Minister of Energy Dwight Duncan, April 12, 2007, Growing the Margins, London, Ontario.