If passed, the Green Energy Act (GEA) would help the Government ensure Ontario’s green economic future by building a stronger, ‘greener’ economy with new investment, creating a projected 50,000 green collar jobs in the first three years, and more economic growth for Ontario.
The proposed GEA contains a series of coordinated actions with two equally important thrusts: making it easier to bring renewable energy projects to life, and promoting energy efficiency.
- Ontario has already brought about 1 GW of new renewable energy on-line since October 2003;
- Canada’s two largest windfarms are located in Ontario and by the end of 2009, nearly 1.2 GW of wind capacity will be on-line;
- Investments in new renewable energy projects already in place or under construction in Ontario total about CA$4 billion;
- To date, the Ontario Home Energy Savings Program has provided CA$38 million to assist homeowners with over 42,000 energy-efficient retrofits.
The proposed GEA, and the expected regulatory changes and policies that would flow from it, include a range of measures. Among the most notable elements are:
- Creating a new attractive feed-in tariff regime – a pricing system for renewable energy – that will guarantee rates and help spark new investment in renewable energy generation, increase investor confidence and access to financing;
- Establishing the ‘right to connect’ to the electricity grid for renewable projects;
- Establishing a streamlined approvals process, including providing service guarantees for renewable energy projects and a Renewable Energy Facilitator;
- Appointing a Renewable Energy Facilitator to offer one-window assistance and support to project developers in order to facilitate project approvals;
- Streamlining approvals for large transmission projects;
- Establishing province-wide standards for renewable energy projects – like standardised setback requirements for windfarms. Approval processes for renewable energy projects would continue to ensure high safety and environmental standards;
- Helping local communities to build and operate their own renewable energy generating facilities, including support for community projects;
- Implementing a smart power grid in Ontario, making it easier to connect renewable energy generation to the system; and
- Offering incentives for small scale renewables, such as zero or low-interest loans to assist homeowners in financing the capital cost of residential renewables.
The GEA will also include measure on energy efficiency including making energy efficiency a central tenet of Ontario’s Building Code.