Ontario's Green Energy Act

Ontario Bill 150 (The Green Energy Act) has been widely hailed as a major step forward toward the adoption of renewable energy. However, at the same time the government (via the OPA) has put forward a binding 20 year plan that asks the Ontario Energy Board to approve what amounts to the existing energy mix, apart from a switch from coal to natural gas for peaking plants. The contribution of renewable energy is negligible in the OPA plan, consisting mostly of some power from wind turbines that actually increases the need to boost the peaking power capacity and energy share.

Bill 150 does not set a goal for replacing fossil fuel sources. It does not even propose a target or a schedule for making significant progress. It deals almost exclusively with the generation of electricity, which accounts for only about 4% of Ontario's energy consumption. The primary sources of CO2 in Ontario come from the buildings sector, mostly for heat, and from the transportation and industrial sectors, but Bill 150 has little to offer for those sectors.

Bill 150 establishes feed in tariffs for a few specific electricity sources, which is a break from the practice of imposing choices via the OPA. However, the rates for those feed in tariffs have not been subject to a process of public development and review. It just imposes someone's estimate for the values, which will be fixed via legislation instead of being subject to careful periodic scrutiny. There is no analysis of the consequences of either the administrative process or the values that have been chosen. There is no explanation for how the OPA management process and the independent feed in tariffs can coexist.

The OPA has said that it will modify its OEB submission to take the Green Energy Act into consideration, and indeed that will not be difficult to do inasmuch as the renewable energy contribution is so small to begin with.

Bill 150 can be found here.

My own submission to the legislative committee considering the Act can be found here.

Ron Tolmie