Executive Director Nicole Risse's Op-ed to Sustainable Energy in Ontario

08 Apr 2016 3:04 PM | Deleted user

Regarding the story, Nicholls and McNaughton believe Green Energy Act is hurting Ontario (March 11).

When Ontarians are realizing that weather extremes caused by climate change are starting to affect them directly, it's especially discouraging that some of our leaders do not recognize the value of a policy such as the Green Energy and Green Economy Act (GEGEA).

The policy was created to jump-start renewable energy generation and encourage the manufacture of related equipment at a time when traditional industries were declining. It was structured to encourage the proliferation of local benefits in clean energy and jobs.

When introduced in 2009, the Feed-in Tariff programs were considered worldwide as ground-breaking regulations that allowed for real community participation, putting Ontario on track to becoming a renewable energy powerhouse.

That potential was never fully reached, and we can now only point to a few examples of maximized community benefits.

Since the introduction of the policy, politicians and entrenched energy interests have used fear, uncertainty, and doubt to spread misinformation about costs and impacts on energy prices. Unfortunately, this largely unchallenged criticism has put the focus of the conversation solely on the cost of electricity, ignoring other important benefits of a decentralized, sustainable energy system.

MPP Monte McNaughton is quick to repeat the unsubstantiated claims that "[wind turbines] are the single biggest driver that's adding to the price of electricity." Considering that some wind project contracts in the recent Large Renewable Procurement come in at a price of $64.50/MWh, which is lower than the lowest initial price estimated for the refurbished Bruce Nuclear reactors (which comes in at $65.73/MWh), this argument falls flat. Furthermore, he ignores data from the Independent Electricity System Operator that indicates nuclear and natural gas as the leading cause for increases in the Global Adjustment charge.

We have seen prices for renewable energy and cost of equipment come down dramatically over the last decade. Increasingly, many jurisdictions are reporting their wind and solar projects are starting to operate on par or even better than their centralized, fossil-fuel energy generators. And now, we even see the myth that nothing can be as cheap as nuclear, which in itself is a highly disputed claim, being dispelled as renewable energy projects challenge the "published" price of nuclear power.

McNaughton and MPP Rick Nicholls should realize that Ontarians need to embrace the concept that sustainable energy is the solution to building a prosperous province with good jobs, resilient communities, and healthy environments.

Nicole Risse

Interim Executive Director

Ontario Sustainable Energy Association

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