Ontario Politicians Ask Questions about Renewable Energy

A government committee that is investigating alternative energy in the province of Ontario has found “considerable uncertainty and debate” on the meaning of ‘green energy’ when applied to energy production and use.

TORONTO, Ontario, CA, 2001-12-13 [SolarAccess.com] The Select Committee on Alternative Fuel Sources was created in June to examine ways to support development of sustainable energy in the province. It has filed an interim report and must submit its final recommendations to the government before next May. Due to confusion among its first 100 witnesses over the meaning of the term ‘green energy,’ the interim report asked residents to provide comments on how they view the term. A range of alternative energy sources has significant potential, according to the report’s conclusions. Major car manufacturers are working with fuel cell companies to develop fuel cell powered vehicles, while smaller firms are developing solar systems that can be incorporated into building construction to reduce costs and improve efficiency. A number of proposals were made for Ontario to adopt a renewables portfolio standard as the province deregulates its electricity sector next spring, and many people argued that the province should consider energy options to “significantly reduce” dependence on fossil-based fuels. “During the last several months, we have received excellent input from fuel source stakeholders, and interested parties across the province,” says committee chair Doug Galt. “In the first series of hearings, we have discovered that a range of alternative energy sources have significant potential in Ontario and a great deal of innovative research is already taking place in the province.” The interim report is designed as a discussion paper to facilitate public debate on the direction the committee and province should take in developing water power, wind power, solar energy, biomass, alternative transportation fuels, hydrogen and fuel cells, the role of energy conservation, public policy and educational efforts to encourage alternative fuel sources. “The work of this committee is extremely important to the economic and environmental future of all Ontarians,” adds committee vice-chair Marie Bountrogianni. “Never before have Ontarians been more ready to embrace the benefits of fossil fuel alternatives.” The committee will resume hearings in the new year to receive input on the policy questions it contains. The first round of hearings were not focused on particular energy sources or technologies, and the committee wants future witnesses to be “as thorough as possible in detailing the consequences of the proposals they are making.” The policy questions include a discussion over whether waterpower should be a priority, and how can hydroelectric sites be balanced with the interests of other watershed activities and users. The members of the committee want suggestions for public policy measures, property tax and royalty tax treatment, and financial incentives to promote wind power in Ontario, and to what degree should the building code accommodate solar applications. The witnesses included the Canadian Renewable Fuels Association, Canadian Wind Energy Association, Environment Canada and Natural Resources Canada, Green Energy Coalition, Ontario Waterpower Association, Toronto Renewable Energy Co-operative and Waterpower Task Force.
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