Ontario Legislature Passes Green Energy Act
McGuinty Government’s Plan Will Lead to Green Jobs and Green Energy
Ontario's Legislature today passed the historic Green Energy Act, intended to attract new investment, create new green economy jobs and better protect the environment. The legislation will now be sent to the province's Lieutenant Governor for Royal Assent.
Once in force, the Green Energy and Green Economy Act (GEA), as well as complimentary policy and regulations, will provide the government with the necessary tools to ensure Ontario's place as North America's renewable energy leader, and to create a culture of conservation, assisting homeowners, government, schools and industry in embracing lower energy use.
The GEA will offer a wide range of economic opportunities for manufacturing and skilled labour as well as new renewable ventures for Aboriginal communities, farmers and community groups in rural Ontario or for urban dwellers, schools or companies looking to invest in rooftop solar to cut their electricity costs.
The legislation was the result of consultation with stakeholders, including public comment on its provisions through both legislative hearings and posting on Ontario's environmental registry.
Key elements of the legislation (and related policy) include:
- Streamlined approvals for renewable energy projects, spurring renewable energy investment while working with municipalities and ensuring strong protection for health, safety and community consultation.
- Mandatory (unless waived by buyer) home energy audits prior to the sale of homes.
- Developing a Feed-in-tariff system to provide guaranteed prices for renewable energy projects, with a related focus on helping companies, farmers, Co-ops and other groups navigate the approvals process, creating Ontario jobs, and developing a smart grid which, among its benefits, will support this new energy supply. .
- Opportunities for municipalities, First Nation and Métis communities to build, own and operate their own renewable energy projects.
- New programs for municipalities, communities and Aboriginal groups to ensure some project costs associated with community renewable energy projects can be recovered.
- Establishment of an academic research chair to examine potential public health effects of renewable energy projects.
Once in force, the legislation itself will lead to many important changes, including a process of regulatory and policy changes, which will also benefit from public and stakeholder consultation.
- The Green Energy and Green Economy Act was introduced into the Ontario Legislature on Feb. 23, 2009.
- Over 50,000 jobs in the next three years are expected to result from implementation of the Green Energy Act.
- Canada’s two largest wind farms are located in Ontario and by the end of 2009, nearly 1,200 megawatts of wind capacity will be on-line, enough to power almost 325,000 homes.
- Investments in new renewable energy projects already in place or under construction in Ontario total about $4 billion.
- The Green Energy Act is designed to build on the McGuinty government’s earlier initiatives on the province’s power supply, including a plan to eliminate coal-fired power by 2014, the single largest climate change initiative in Canada.
“The Green Energy Act will truly set us on the path to a 21st century green economy for Ontario, one that is sustainable, easy on the environment, and focused on the jobs of the future. We’ll be working hard to ensure Ontario gets every benefit possible from renewable energy and from the efficiency and savings that come from developing a culture of conservation.”