Pressure mounts to expand wind power production incentive

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Canada can achieve economic and environmental sustainability within a generation if governments support initiatives like the increased use of renewable energy, says one of the country's best-known environmentalists. David Suzuki has joined the chorus of voices calling on the federal government to expand its wind power production incentive (WPPI) to support the development of more wind energy. Suzuki wants to see the wind subsidy, currently C$0.01/kWh, doubled and the program extended to other forms of low-impact renewable energy. Most energy subsidies in Canada, says Suzuki, go to conventional, non-renewable sources. "This practice needs to be reversed so that our greatest energy investments are into renewable sources." The call for an expanded WPPI program leading into this year's federal budget has been widespread. A group of 18 major environmental groups, calling themselves the Green Budget Coalition, wants the government to "create a level playing field for investment" by increasing WPPI to the match wind's federal production tax credit in the United States, which is about C$0.027/kWh. The Clean Air Renewable Energy Coalition -- an alliance of big oil companies like Shell, Suncor and BP Canada, big utilities like Hydro-Quebec, Ontario Power Generation and BC Hydro, environmental groups and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities -- is making the same recommendation. The wind industry, however, through the Canadian Wind Energy Association, is pushing harder. It wants the government to quadruple the WPPI budget to support the installation of 4000 MW of new wind capacity, extend the program deadline from 2007 to 2010, and remove all caps that limit how much of the WPPI money any single project, developer or province can access. Right now, payments under WPPI are limited to 1000 MW of new capacity, with a cap of 300 MW for any single province.

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