Ontario Election 2011 - Energy Resources

Support Ontario's Green Energy Act!

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FACT: Feed-in tariffs are the most effective tools to develop renewable energy

Feed-in tariffs, or FITs, are the cornerstone policy of the Green Energy Act, which pays renewable energy producers to feed energy onto the electricity grid. Studies have found that feed-in mechanisms achieve larger deployment at lower coststhan other policy mechanisms such as quotas, direct incentives or voluntary goals — making feed-in tariffs the most efficient and cost-effective policy to procure renewable energy.

Feed-in tariffs have also largely been credited for supporting green job creation in Europe.  The FIT in Ontario is crucial to foster the urgently needed transition to clean energy, maintain jobs creation and ensure investment from domestic and global players. While the Green Energy Act could and should be improved now that it has been in operation for two years, it is still arguably the most progressive renewable energy policy in North America in the past 20 years.

Filed under Feed-in tariff green energy act germany europe effective progressive nuclear fossil fuel pembina RFP inclusive

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FACT: Green energy creates jobs for Ontarians

Because Ontario is still developing its clean energy economy, it is difficult to calculate exactly how many jobs have been created and will be created through the Green Energy Act. However, there is no question the legislation is creating jobs:

The Blue-Green Alliance has developed a map of existing and proposed jobs at the 40 new manufacturing facilities in Ontario that have been announced. This summer, ClearSky Advisors released studies estimating that by 2011, solar energy in Ontario generated two billion dollars of private sector investment and 8,200 jobs, and they estimate that solar PV energy itself is will create 70,000 jobs in Ontario by 2018.

A recent Pembina Institute analysis found that all renewable energy technology, including energy efficiency, currently generates three to 10 times the number of jobs per hour of energy generated than fossil fuels or nuclear (see table below).

TABLE: Job creation per hour of energy generation

Comparison of jobs created from various types of energy generation.

Comparison of jobs created from various types of energy generation. Source: http://www.pembina.org/pub/2178

The potential for green energy investment and manufacturing in Ontario is only growing, meaning that this is one sector that will continue to generate jobs and economic stimulus now and in the future. Cancelling our green energy program and killing these jobs would be harmful to Ontario’s economy, which is faring well in tough times thanks in large part to the Green Energy Act.

Filed under jobs ontario gea green energy act pembina

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FACT: Grandmothers do not have to do their laundry at 2 a.m. because of smart meters

Despite what some politicians are saying, smart power meters do not create an unfair burden by increasing electricity prices. Off-peak hours in Ontario begin at 7 p.m. on weekdays, while mid-peak pricing starts at 5 p.m. and any electricity used over the weekend gets charged at off-peak rates. It’s good to consider how changes to Ontario’s electricity pricing system will affect lower-income and fixed-income Ontarians, but there’s little evidence that time-of-use pricing presents additional cost burden on those households.

A case study in Milton, Ontario, looked at the effect of moving to time-of-use pricing, from flat rates for electricity, based on data from1020 households. They found that for 98.2 per cent of customers, the move to time-of-use billing amounted to less than a five per cent change (either up or down) in their electricity expenses. On average, the switch to time-of-use billing resulted in a 0.233 per cent increase. In another study, a master’s student at the University of Guelph looked more specifically at low- and fixed-income households. She found that they were slightly worse off with time-of-use rates in the summer and slightly better off with time-of-use rates in the winter. In both cases, the differences were reasonably small.

Eliminating the harmonized sales tax (HST) from electricity bills is not the solution to high electricity bills, because doing so would increase consumption at a time when we’re facing a critical need to reduce and electricity demand overall. Implementing better energy conservation programs would reduce energy use while saving consumers money. In comparison, removing the HST from energy bills would increase consumption and cost us all more in the end because of the need for additional power sources and expensive infrastructure.

Filed under smart meter election pembina green energy hst coffee muffin grandmothers 2am laundry

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FACT: Green energy has existed for decades without harmful side effects

In June, I toured parts of Ontario with a German farmer, Hans Feddersen, who has been living with more than 60 turbines in the fields of his local community for 20 years. After a few media interviews, the farmer expressed confusion and frustration because the questions were so focused on health issues — rather than the tremendous benefits of renewable energy.

According to Feddersen, Germany addressed those issues years ago; Feddersen said health concerns associated with wind energy “isn’t a topic anymore” in his country, which is leading the world in wind power production.

The first policies to form the German equivalent of Ontario’s Green Energy Act were instituted 20 years ago in Germany. Those policies have been updated and improved over time by successive governments on both ends of the German political spectrum. Similarly, Ontario’s Green Energy Act has room for improvement, and we can learn from Germany, where strong community involvement in the program has led to both profits for rural residence along with strong support.

While we recognize that renewable energy technologies — ranging from hydro, to biomass, to wind turbines — do have local impacts that need to be minimized and addressed through effective, local public consultations, fossil fuels pose a more serious threat to human health and the environment.

Filed under Green Energy Act GEA FIT PEmbina renewables election

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FACT: The Green Energy Act will not dramatically increase the price of electricity.

Even if Ontario stopped all new investment in renewable power today, electricity prices would continue to rise. This is due to the inevitable expense of upgrading our ageing electricity grid and building new power plants as old ones retire. This recent Pembina Institute report compared how replacing renewable energy with power from fossil fuels would affect Ontario electricity prices. Click for more detail.

This recent Pembina Institute report compared how replacing renewable energy with power from fossil fuels would affect Ontario electricity prices. Click for more detail.

Critics of green energy are falsely comparing the cost of renewable energy projects today with the price of electricity from facilities built thirty years ago. Any comparison should be against the cost of building and operating any new power plant.

The Pembina Institute recently modeled these complex interactions for Ontario’s electricity system. Our report on that study, Behind the Switch, found that cancelling the Green Energy Act would likely result in a slightly slower price increase in the short term — saving the average household about the cost of a cup of coffee and a muffin per month. In the longer term, however, the Green Energy Act would result in cost savings for consumers, since the cost of renewables will continue to decrease every year, while the price of natural gas is forecast to continue increasing over the next 20 years.

Filed under Green Energy Act GEA FIT Pembina Wind solar Biogas hydro bill cost price

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Frequently Asked Questions about Green Energy in Ontario

Ontario has taken the laudable step of closing down its entire fleet of coal-fired power plants — a move supported across partisan lines. This, however, is but one of the many changes that is coming to Ontario’s electricity system.  Tim Weis Director of renewable energy & energy efficiency, answers some of the most frequently asked questions about the role that renewable energy could play in the future of electricity generation in Ontario.

Filed under Ontario election Pembina Nuclear coal gas hydro wind biomass biogas solar Pembina Tim Weis FAQ Facts Frequently asked questions

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Pembina Analysis of Ontario political platforms

The Pembina Institute’s detailed platform analysis compares the commitments the Ontario Liberal, NDP and Progressive Conservative parties have made on a range of sustainable energy priorities.

The analysis looks at where the parties stand on issues such as investing in renewable power generation, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, creating incentives for energy conservation and expanding transit systems. The results identify clear leaders in building the province’s clean energy economy.

Filed under Pembina election Green Energy and Green Economy Act Green Energy Act Election Analysis climate change solar wind biogas biomass hydro nuclear coal gas transportation urban planning electricity energy efficiency economics Tim Weis Cherise Burda

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Behind the Switch: Pricing Ontario's Electricity Options

This report examines how scaling back Ontario’s plans to develop renewable energy would affect electricity prices, using an integrated energy system simulator to compare two main scenarios.

The first scenario is based on Ontario’s current Long-Term Energy Plan, in which a large part of new electricity generation comes from additional renewable capacity supported under the Green Energy Act; the second scenario tests the effect of eliminating the Act and largely expanding natural gas in place of future renewable resources.

Behind the switch: pricing Ontario electricity options finds that Ontario consumers would see virtually no relief from high electricity prices if the province cancelled its support for renewable energy under the Green Energy Act.

In fact, the study indicates that investing in renewable energy today is likely to save Ontario ratepayers money within the next 15 years, as natural gas becomes more expensive and as the cost of renewable energy technology continues to decrease.

Filed under Pembina Tim Weis cheaper cost economic impacts renewable energy scenarios natural gas nuclear

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Ontario needs discussion on green energy

Ontario ratepayers deserve to know what the full costs and consequences of cancelling the Green Energy Act would be - and what other energy sources would be used to replace renewable power in this province. If cancelling the act means less clean energy, green jobs and more power from fossil fuels at a similar or higher price in the near future, it’s a bad deal for Ontarians in the long run.

Filed under green energy act Clean energy jobs pollution climate change investment pembina Clear Sky analysts dirty energy choices