Wind Power Stirs Up Canadian Debate

The province of Prince Edward Island (PEI) plans to introduce renewable tariffs later this year, the first jurisdiction to do so in North America. The tariffs will be used to develop community-owned wind generation on the island.

Toronto, Canada – June 14, 2004 [SolarAccess.com] The renewable tariffs are part of a comprehensive proposal to produce 100% of the island’s electricity with wind energy by 2015. Wind turbines at North Cape currently produce 5% of Prince Edward Island’s electricity, the highest percentage of wind generation within a province in Canada, according to Paul Gipe, acting executive director of the Ontario Sustainable Energy Association (OSEA). Prince Edward Island’s ruling Progressive Conservative Party endorsed the renewable energy proposal at its recent caucus. The caucus will table enabling legislation this fall. “This is the most far-reaching proposal of its kind in North America,” said Gipe, an expert on the topic. “I hope that the federal political parties make note of what PEI is doing.” Canada is in the midst of a bitter election campaign where wind energy has become part of the debate. The ruling Liberal Party has been dueling with both the New Democratic Party and the Bloc Quebecois over who will do more for wind energy. Neither the Conservative Party nor the Green Party have made any specific proposals. None of the federal parties have proposed renewable tariffs. “It’s heartening that the federal parties are finally paying attention to the potential of wind energy in Canada,” Gipe said, “but none of the party platforms compare to PEI’s proposal. Let’s hope that PEI’s plan lights a fire under the federal parties.” Prince Edward Island’s renewable tariffs are patterned after those used for nearly two decades in Denmark. Germany used renewable tariffs until 2000 when it introduced a more advanced tariff program. Spain also uses renewable tariffs. The three countries are the world’s leading manufacturers and users of wind turbines. Collectively they employ nearly 80,000 in the wind industry. OSEA has proposed renewable tariffs, similar to those planned on Prince Edward Island, for farmer-owned and community-owned wind turbines in Ontario. PEI is Canada’s smallest province; Ontario it’s most populous. Relative to the land area in southern Ontario, the province would have to install 12,000 MW of wind turbines by 2015 to rival PEI–nearly 1,000 times the capacity currently operating in Ontario.

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