Wind turbines in Ontario, Canada. Image by: CanWEA (www.canwea.ca).
The newly-elected government of Ontario on Friday introduced legislation to scrap the Green Energy Act, the key policy behind the Canadian province’s feed-in tariff (FiT) mechanism in support of renewables.
The Green Energy Act was introduced in the Ontario legislature back in 2009 in order to expand the use of renewables in the province and fight climate change. It set different levels of tariffs for electricity from renewable energy sources but was later considered to be controversial as it failed to create the promised employment in the sector and saw the province overpay for unneeded power capacity.
The new government, which was elected in June, will repeal the Green Energy Act on the grounds that it is “the largest transfer of money from the poor and middle class to the rich,” said Greg Rickford, Minister of Energy, Northern Development and Mines. More specifically, the law is considered to have caused electricity rates to triple and has taken away municipalities' powers to cancel wind and solar farm projects, which the government claims are “expensive and unneeded.”
"This legislation was driven by dangerous ideology and caused your hydro bill to skyrocket. We are committed to cleaning up the hydro mess and lowering bills by 12%,” Rickford tweeted. Meanwhile, the new legislation would empower the government to stop approvals for “wasteful” energy projects where no need for additional power has been identified, according to the press statement.
According to the Ontario Energy Board and the Independent Electricity System Operator, costs for wind and solar increased electricity bills in the province by CAD 3.75 billion (USD 2.9bn/EUR 2.5bn) last year, while 26% of the wind and solar power output was curtailed or wasted, the government pointed out in its statement. The latest announcement follows a decision from this summer to scrap 758 renewable energy contracts of developers who have been unable to achieve certain project development milestones so as to lower electricity rates.
The Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA), described the claims as "inaccurate" and "misleading," rejecting the government’s statements that wind generation has raised electricity bills and adding that it is rather bringing “sustained revenue”, benefits agreements and green jobs, while costs for wind power are falling. The organisation called for all forms of electricity generation to be treated consistently under the new law.
As of August 2018, Ontario had 5,076 MW of installed wind power capacity, the highest among all Canadian states, supplying about 7.5% of the province’s electricity demand.
Veselina Petrova is one of Renewables Now's most experienced green energy writers. For several years she has been keeping track of game-changing events both large and small projects and across the globe.