Ontario launches 20-year energy plan

CANADA: The Ontario government has released a 20-year energy plan that will see non-hydro renewable energy sources supply 13% of the province's electricity needs by 2018, up from 3% today.

The plan targets a total of 10.7GW of wind, solar and bioenergy capacity and identifies five priority transmission projects designed to accommodate new supply.

A "strong majority" of the expected development is likely to be wind, says Robert Hornung, president of the Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA).

The plan provides some much-needed long-term visibility to investors who, while attracted by the province's premium-priced feed-in tariffs (Fit), have also expressed concern about the lack of clarity on critical questions like expected demand growth in the province and how it will be met.

"The plan will continue to provide the stability in the energy sector with its long-term, integrated look at the power system as a whole," said Mike Crawley, president of International Power Canada. "This is essential to attracting private investment."

At the same time, though, industry reaction to the plan hints at a growing worry about the political risks associated with Ontario's green energy policies.

"What is needed now is to get on with the next steps, including approval by the Ontario Energy Board, and then turn the plan over to the appropriate agencies for execution, free from interference," said David Butters, president of the Association of Power Producers of Ontario.

The Liberal government has surprised the industry in the past with deals outside the Fit program rules and is now coming under fire for rising power prices that critics are blaming on its green energy ambitions.

It responded last week with the promise of a 10% rebate on electric bills for consumers.

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