Project Development, Wind Power

Report Calls for Fixed RE Tariffs in Ontario

According to a new study commissioned by the Ontario Ministry of Energy, Ontario’s communities can help solve the looming power crisis through a simple policy option which encourages community scale power projects that produce clean and reliable energy generation.

The report, entitled “Powering Ontario Communities”, released by the Ontario Sustainable Energy Association (link below) outlines the “standard offer contract” approach, a policy successfully implemented in the United States, France, Germany, Spain, Portugal, the Netherlands, and Turkey, which provides open access to contracts for delivering renewable power to the power grid. The report argues that “standard offer contracts”, which fix a long-term standard price for every kilowatt-hour of electricity produced, would unleash the entrepreneurial spirit of Ontarians, provide more renewably-generated electricity, more economic activity, and more jobs in the manufacturing of wind turbines and solar panels than any other means available to the province. The report calls for the Ministry of Energy to immediately implement a five-year pilot program providing standard contracts for the delivery of wind, solar, hydro, and biomass-generated electricity to the provincial grid. “Renewable Energy policy mechanisms incorporating the standard offer contacts as its core feature, has proven to be the single most successful mechanism for the rapid development of reliable and clean renewable energy throughout the world.” explained Deborah Doncaster, Executive Director of OSEA. “And not only has this policy resulted in more renewable energy generation than any other policy alternative, but has also incubated an entire new manufacturing sector in its host regions, while offering tremendous benefits to rural and urban communities.” This fixed price strategy for the sale of renewably-generated electricity, has driven a massive clean energy building effort worldwide. Germany, for instance, now produces 9% of its electricity from new sources of renewable energy. This has been accomplished in a matter of only a few years by enabling farmers, co-operatives, rural landowners and city dwellers to build and own their own renewable energy power plants. As a result, there are now 45,000 people employed in the German wind industry and another 15,000 employed in the solar industry. A similar volume of renewable energy development in Ontario would produce 25% of our province’s energy needs. In anticipation that the Ministry of Energy is moving in this direction, some communities are preparing their projects. “We are developing a project with strong local support that will bring local economic investment, new jobs, community pride of ownership and clean power to our community,” explained Doug Fyfe, project manager of Countryside Energy Co-op Inc, a community group developing small wind farms in Huron and Perth counties. “The province needs the power, we’re prepared to supply it, but first we need to know that the province will buy our power – standard offer contracts provide the certainty communities and co-ops need to help solve Ontario’s looming energy crisis.” The standard offer approach is certainly not lost on the Ontario Liberal Party, which endorsed this concept at its party congress last fall. The report and its recommendations are now in the hands of the Ministry of Energy and the Ontario Power Authority. Dwight Duncan, Minister of Energy, has himself visited a co-operatively-owned wind farm off the coast of Copenhagen, Denmark’s capital. The wind farm Duncan visited was built by the co-op’s owners living in the city using a standard offer contract like that proposed by OSEA for Ontario. The OPA is currently holding stakeholder consultations on energy procurement strategies. OSEA, CanWEA, and OSEA member groups are some of the stakeholders making submissions in support of Standard Offer Contracts.