Ontario renewables 'schemes bypassed regulatory processes'

CANADA: Ontario's auditor general has declared that billions of dollars of new wind and solar power projects have been approved in Ontario without many of the usual planning, regulatory, and oversight processes.

"While this helped these projects get off the ground quickly, their high cost will add significantly to ratepayers’ electricity bills in the future," Jim McCarter said in releasing  his 2011 annual report.

Ontario's premium feed-in tariff (Fit) rates will add about $220 million a year to the cost of electricity in the province, he said.

McCarter urged the government and its agency, the Ontario Power Authority, to conduct a "cost-benefit assessment of the progress made to date" in order to "strike an appropriated balance between the promotion of green energy and the price of electricity in Ontario."

He also singled out the controversial deal with a Samsung-led consortium, which is being paid C$110 over and above the Fit premium in exchange for C$7 billion in investment. McCarter said: "No formal economic analysis was done to determine whether the deal was prudent."

Energy Minister Chris Bentley defended the government’s green energy initiatives in the legislature. He said the province is in the midst of a review of the Fit program and is using the auditor general’s recommendations to improve its approach.

"Improvements, yes. But go back? No. There is a future in clean air and good jobs for Ontario families."

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