Net Metering, Energy Center Next RE Efforts in Ontario

Efforts to promote renewable energy in Ontario need a strong foundation of development and accessibility for success. The McGuinty government had a solid year of funding in 2004, and it is starting 2005 with CAD 8 million (US $6.57 million) for a Center of Excellence for Energy, and is planning to amend net metering rules that will allow for larger renewable energy systems.

Economic Development and Trade Minister Joseph Cordiano announced the plans for the center, which will develop over the next four years. “The Center of Excellence for Energy will further the government’s innovation agenda by encouraging research and development into leading edge and emerging energy sources and technology,” Cordiano said. “This funding is part of the Ontario government’s $1.8 billion commitment to support research and commercialization to ensure our continued prosperity and maintain Ontario’s position as a leading innovation economy.” Ontario established the non-profit corporation Ontario Centers of Excellence (OCE) in 1987 to support research in the province, and the Center of Excellence for Energy will operate as a division of the corporation. The four other centers promote research in photonics, information technology, earth and space technology and materials and manufacturing. OCE has linked approximately 800 companies to nearly 4,000 academic researchers at more than 200 post-secondary institutions, and attracted CAD 24 million in investments from the private sector in the year ending March 31, 2004. “The McGuinty government is committed to protecting the interests of Ontarians by ensuring a reliable, sustainable and diverse supply of competitively-priced power for the province, while promoting energy conservation,” said Dwight Duncan, Minister of Energy. “This new Center of Excellence for Energy is the latest pillar in the province’s long-term energy strategy.” The energy center is expected to be in operation this spring, and to build even more value into the successful OCE program. It will explore options for leveraging funding from the private sector, and work to increase the development of new energy technologies and bring them into the marketplace. Researchers aren’t the only ones to benefit from the government’s push for renewable energy. Current net metering rules in the province are only available for projects that produce up to 50 kW, and project selection is at the discretion of local energy distribution companies. A new regulation being designed by the McGuinty government should eliminate this inconsistency by requiring that distributors permit net metering for all eligible projects that produce up to 500 kW. Projects that produce electricity from clean sources such as water, wind, solar power and farm biomass would be eligible. “Our plan is to make it more attractive for small generators such as farmers to produce green power by allowing them to receive credit for the excess electricity they produce,” said Duncan. “Our government believes it’s time to reward those who want to help clean up our air and increase Ontario’s supply of clean, green energy.” The draft regulation is posted on the electronic Environmental Registry, which allows Ontarians to participate in environmental decision-making. The proposed regulation and the process for submitting comments are available at the link below.
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