A great article by Mike “Make It Right” Holmes, host of the television series Holmes on Homes & Holmes Inspection, on The David Suzuki Foundation’s blog today:
Over the past few weeks, Ontario politicians have engaged in heated debate about the province’s much lauded and much criticized Green Energy Act. Some say it is the backbone of the province’s promising green technology sector; others want to put a stake through its heart. Regardless of your political stripes, everyone agrees; the stakes are high.
So what is really happening in Ontario? Simply put, a lot...The Province of Ontario is two years along a brave new path that is expected to bring future prosperity and cleaner energy to Ontario communities. It has done this by encouraging the private sector to invest in local power projects and companies that make the thousands of components that are required to make windmills whir and solar panels purr. At the same time, the province has begun promoting energy conservation and making huge investments in our energy infrastructure — measures that will reduce energy consumption and save taxpayers money in the long run.
Just in time for the Ontario election, where Tory leader Tim Hudak is promising to kill the innovative Green Energy Act if elected, here’s Rick Mercer and Mike Holmes, two Canadian icons,in a great clip from last week’s Mercer Report:
Mennonite Central Committee Ontario (MCCO) is committed to caring for creation. As part of that commitment, they have produced a youtube video that they’ve entered in the Watts Next contest, which is inviting video submissions from across the province with a theme of mapping a sustainable future for Ontario. Here’s MCCO’s entry, Go Big Or Go Small:
If Go Big or Go Small gets the most views, MCCO will win a 10 kw solar energy system to install on the roof of its new building. So you are invited to watch it, share it, and link it, for a good cause!
With an exciting announcement yesterday, Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty secured the province’s place as the North American leader in green energy. The 184 projects, which include 36 community and aboriginal proposals located throughout the province, will be receiving the money. The projects are expected to generate 20,000 new jobs in Ontario, which has been among the Canadian provinces hit the hardest by the recession in recent years.
Premier McGuinty and Energy Minister Brad Duguid made the announcement in Cornwall yesterday. They said the projects are expected to create almost 2,500 megawatts – more than Niagara Falls generates – of renewable energy from wind, solar and run-of-river hydro projects, and generate enough energy to power 600,000 homes in the province, McGuinty said.
A breakdown of the projects looks like this:
76 ground-mounted solar panel
47 onshore wind
1 rooftop solar
1 offshore wind
“This is the most significant climate change initiative in all of North America,” Duguid said. “It puts us ahead of the game and that’s where we fully intend to stay.”
“It’s just the kind of investment in clean energy that is needed to create good green jobs, and revitalize the economy.” Rick Smith, Executive Director of Environmental Defense said in response to the announcement.
Back in 2001, Ontario’s Liberal government passed legislation to eliminate the first coal-fired power plant by 2005. Once this was accomplished, a second goal was set to shut down the 4 remaining coal generating stations in the province by 2014. This coal phase-out is the single largest greenhouse gas emission reduction initiative in North America – equivalent to taking almost seven million cars off the road. For more on why it is so important to stop using coal as an energy source now, go to Burycoal.com.
The Ontario Clean Air Alliance recently published a report that points out that Ontario has a significant surplus of coal-free generating capacity now and could finish the coal phase out in 2010, four years ahead of schedule.
Given that Ontario’s coal-free generation capacity now exceeds our peak day demands by more than 18%, we no longer need our dirty coal plants to meet North American reliability standards. Nevertheless, according to the Ontario Power Authority, we need to retain some of our coal capacity on standby reserve until December 31, 2014…
The report concludes that:
By achieving a virtually complete coal phase-out before this summer’s G20 Summit in Toronto, Ontario can protect public heath and provide climate change leadership to Canada, the United States, China and the World.
Ontario has emerged as a North American leader as it moves towards more sustainable ways of generating electricity, particularly after the Green Energy Act was passed last spring. The GEA proposes to double renewable power generation in Ontario by 2015, to create thousands of “green” jobs, and to cut the bureaucracy around new alternative energy initiatives. Let’s hope that the Ontario government keeps up its push towards green energy and away from carbon emissions that endanger the health of its citizens and the planet, and follow the OCAA’s recommendations.
To read the Ontario Clean Air Alliance Report in full, click here.
To read more about the Green Energy Act, click here to go to the Ontario Ministry of the Energy and Infrastructure website. Go to Envirolaw.com for an analysis of it by Ontario environmental lawyer Dianne Saxe.
To send a message to Premier McGuinty encouraging him to continue down the road to sustainability by following the OCAA’s recommendations, you can call him at 613-736-9573 or
send him a fax at 613-736-7374. His email address is: firstname.lastname@example.org.
To send the same message to Brad Duguid, Minister of Energy and Infrastructure, email him at: email@example.com. You can reach him by phone at 416-615-2183, or fax him at 416-615-2011. *Correction – my original post cited George Smitherman as the Minister of Energy and Infrastructure, but he has resigned and is now running for Mayor of Toronto. Thanks to a reader, Richard, for pointing out this error.*
The province of Ontario announced yesterday that a deal has been struck with a Korean consortium, led by Samsung, for a multi-billion dollar investment in solar and wind projects around the province. The hope is that the deal will also bring new manufacturing jobs to the province, which has been badly hit by the downturn in the auto sector. Premier Dalton McGuinty stated:
“With this step, Ontario is becoming the place to be for green energy manufacturing in North America.”
The project is not without its detractors (click here and here for more information). One of their complaints is that the deal gives Samsung an unfair advantage over local wind and solar producers. But the deal is in line with the province’s new Green Energy and Green Economy Act (GEA) which, according to Renewable Energy World:
takes a two-pronged approach to creating a green economy. The first is to bring more renewables to the province and the second is the creation of more energy efficiency measures to help conserve energy. The bill also includes measures that the ministry hopes will foster a new green economy for Ontario by giving organizations and local communities such as First Nations and Métis communities more opportunities to develop distributed renewable energy generation projects.
To read more about the GEA and the feed-in tariff (FIT) program that the province introduced in 2009, check out this article by The Star’s Energy and Technology columnist Tyler Hamilton.
It is exciting to see my home province move boldly in the direction of a “green economy”. It is the future. Some governments and leaders have the foresight to realize which way the economic wind is blowing, and their citizens will reap the benefits in the years to come. Unfortunately, the Canadian federal government hasn’t yet joined the 21st century, and it still putting all of its “eggs” in the fossil fuel “basket”. And all Canadians are going to pay the price – both in an unstable climate and in a unsustainable economy.