To no one’s surprise, only months after cancelling hundreds of renewable energy contracts, the Ontario government introduced legislation late in September that will scrap the Green Energy Act, a law introduced in 2009 that aimed to bolster the province’s green energy industry. Critics of the act have said it resulted in an increase in electricity costs and saw the province overpay for power it did not need. Infrastructure Minister, Monte McNaughton stated last week that repealing the law will ensure that municipalities regain planning authority over renewable projects, something that was removed under the act.
The government said future renewable energy projects must first demonstrate need for the electricity they generate, before being granted approval. The province would not say if the same rules would apply to natural gas or nuclear projects.The government announced this summer it was cancelling 758 renewable energy contracts in what it called an effort to reduce electricity bills in the province. Energy Minister, Greg Rickford said the move would save provincial ratepayers $790-million, but according to a CBC report, “industry officials questioned the figure and predicted there would be job losses.”
“Environmental advocacy groups and opposition parties said eliminating the Green Energy Act is largely symbolic, since the contracts were already ripped up. But they argued the move would discourage those in the green energy industry, costing the province significant investments and jobs without lowering electricity bills.”
“It is largely symbolic, there’s no current investment going forward in green energy, there are no projects to cancel,” said NDP legislator, Peter Tabuns, adding the Tory plan “doesn’t actually address the substantial problems that people have with higher bills.”
Green Party Leader, Mike Schreiner said the legislation will do nothing to lower electricity prices, “but it will have a chilling effect on job creation and investors in the clean economy.”