Ontario Green Energy Act would advance hydro, other renewables

Ontario’s Energy minister has issued a proposed Green Energy Act, legislation intended to expand the province’s use of renewable energy sources including hydropower.

Ontario Energy and Infrastructure Minister George Smitherman said Feb. 23 that the act, which requires legislative approval, would streamline the power project approval process, which currently is an impediment to attracting �green� energy investment. The regulatory revision is to make it easier and quicker for prospective developers to supply green energy to the electricity grid.

The Green Energy Act is expected to help Ontario achieve aggressive targets, such as 10,000 MW of new installed renewable energy by 2015, and 25,000 MW of new installed renewable energy by 2025, both over and above 2003 levels.

Smitherman said the measure would encourage billions of dollars in investment to help ensure Ontario’s energy supply mix. It also would help develop a grid better adapted to renewable energy projects.

The bill would create a system of advanced renewable energy �feed-in� tariffs intended to set guaranteed prices as an incentive to developing renewable sources of energy. It also would establish a Community Power Corp. to increase the capability of local communities to develop projects, provide early stage project funding, and facilitate development of financing mechanisms.

It would obligate utilities to grant priority grid access to renewables projects and to connect green energy projects to the grid. It would adopt smart grid technologies, including energy storage, to transform Ontario’s highly centralized energy system.

In September 2008, Smitherman directed the Ontario Power Authority to re-examine part of its proposed Integrated Power System Plan to maximize the long-term energy strategy’s potential to provide clean, renewable energy to the province. (HNN 9/26/08) The 20-year plan already proposes to more than double the amount of renewable energy on Ontario’s grid by 2025, including nearly 3,000 MW of new hydropower. That six-month review still is in progress.

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