Throne speech priority status

Wind power incentives are high on the new Canadian government's "to do" list, getting special mention in its October 5 "throne speech" which lays out the administration's legislative priorities. The governing Liberal party promises to encourage more renewable energy. "This will build on efforts already underway, including support for wind power production in Canada, stimulated by a quadrupling of the Wind Power Production Incentive," the government pledged.

Right now, payments of C$0.01/kWh under the Wind Power Production Incentive (WPPI) are limited to 1000 MW of new capacity. The Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA) has been lobbying to get the ceiling raised to 4000 MW and to have all caps that limit how much of the WPPI money any single project, developer or province can access removed. The program has so far received letters of interest from developers contemplating projects totalling more than 10,300 MW.

Singling out wind power in the throne speech confirms the government sees it as a "major energy opportunity" for Canada, says CanWEA's Robert Hornung. Expanding WPPI, he says, will facilitate the development of a market large enough to attract a manufacturing industry.

It will also "send a clear signal" to the provinces that the federal government is ready to work with them to develop wind in their power markets. Provincial governments across the country are currently implementing, or considering, initiatives that would put in place 4500-5000 MW of wind energy by 2012.

Although the policy future for wind power is bright, the challenge now will be ensuring the government survives long enough to follow through on its promise. The Liberals won June's federal election, but failed to get a clear majority of seats. If it fails to win the support of enough opposition members to pass legislation, the government falls and Canadians have to go back to the polls.

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