Ontario government moves to scrap Green Energy Act

Ontario government moves to scrap Green Energy Act
Ontario PCs introduce legislation to scrap Green Energy Act
Doug Ford‘s Progressive Conservative government has introduced legislation to put an end to the province’s Green Energy Act.

The legislation was tabled just before 1:30 p.m. ET Thursday. A formal announcement was made by energy minister, Greg Rickford, and infrastructure minister, Monte McNaughton.

READ MORE: 758 renewable energy contracts cancelled by Ontario government, millions in savings promised

“The Green Energy Act represents the largest transfer of money from the poor and middle class to the rich in Ontarios history,” Rickford said.

“The GEA allowed the previous government to trample over the rights of families, businesses and municipalities across rural Ontario,” added McNaughton.

Killing the former Liberal government’s Green Energy Act — passed in 2009 when Dalton McGuinty was premier — was a major campaign promise for Ford.

He said that the GEA had resulted in fewer manufacturing jobs in Ontario and that regulations around renewable energy projects had led to higher electricity prices for consumers.

The move comes after the PC government had already introduced legislation cancelling hundreds of wind energy projects approved under the act.

READ MORE: Liberals ignored green energy advice that could have saved Ontarians billions, lead engineer says

“We will wait to see what the legislation says,” said Andrea Horwath, Ontario NDP leader. “What Im concerned about is that this government is showing that their intention in the energy sector is the same [as the Liberals].”

“What we need is a government thats prepared to make sure that all energy is operating in the best interest of people and business, not private interest,” she said.

For example, under the GEA, municipalities were essentially barred from disallowing renewable energy projects – such as wind farms – from being built within their territory. Many people opposed to these projects criticized this section of the GEA, saying it prohibited local communities from deciding their own futures.

The GEA also gave special powers to the minister of energy to green light certain projects, such as transmission lines, without conducting a full economic review prior to approval.

But proponents of the GEA, including former energy minister George Smitherman, who helped pass the legislation, have called the GEA and renewable energy projects in the province a big success.

Meanwhile, Liberal interim leader, John Fraser, says cancellation of the GEA could see Ontario move backward on renewable energy when compared to the rest of the world. He also fears scrapping the act could mean job losses.

“My biggest concern this afternoon is jobs. Whats going to happen to peoples jobs in this industry that weve built up – tens of thousands of jobs,” Fraser said.

They say that the GEA was responsible for the “disastrous” feed-in-tariff program that contributed significantly toward skyrocketing electricity prices and that the bill’s repeal is necessary to prevent “unneeded” renewable energy projects being approved in the future.

“We believe the people of Ontario should have the final say about what gets built in their communities,” McNaughton said.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford makes an announcement at the Queens Park legislature in Toronto on Wednesday, August 15, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young

TORONTO — Months after cancelling hundreds of renewable energy contracts, the Ontario government introduced legislation Thursday to scrap a law that aimed to bolster the provinces green energy industry.

Premier Doug Ford promised during the spring election campaign to repeal the Green Energy Act, which was introduced by the previous Liberal government in 2009 in a bid to grow the provinces solar and wind energy supply.

Critics of the act have said it resulted in an increase in electricity costs and saw the province overpay for power it did not need.

Infrastructure Minister Monte McNaughton said Thursday repealing the law will ensure that municipalities regain planning authority over renewable projects, something that was removed under the act.

"They didnt want these wind and solar farms," McNaughton said. "The people of Ontario should always have the final say on what gets built in their communities."

The government said that future renewable energy projects must first demonstrate need for the electricity they generate before being granted approval.

The province would not say, however, if the same rules would apply to natural gas or nuclear projects.

The government announced this summer it was cancelling 758 renewable energy contracts in what it called an effort to reduce electricity bills in the province. Energy Minister Greg Rickford said the move would save provincial ratepayers $790 million, but industry officials questioned the figure and predicted there would be job losses.

Environmental advocacy groups and opposition parties said eliminating the Green Energy Act is largely symbolic since the contracts were already ripped up.

But they argued the move would discourage those in the green energy industry, costing the province significant investments and jobs without lowering electricity bills.

"It is largely symbolic, theres no current investment going forward in green energy, there are no projects to cancel," said NDP legislator Peter Tabuns, adding the Tory plan "doesnt actually address the substantial problems that people have with higher bills."

Green Party Leader Mike Schreiner said the legislation will do nothing to lower electricity prices, "but it will have a chilling effect on job creation and investors in the clean economy."

"The government is doubling down on its message that Conservatives want no part of the jobs and investment in the $26-trillion global clean economy," Schreiner said in a statement.

Greenpeace Canada said that while the act was known principally as a way of procuring renewable energy, it was included in a number of other progressive environmental policies, which will now be rolled back if the bill passes.

"Although a symbolic blow to renewable energy, this is another sign of the Ford governments intent to take us back to the 1990s on environmental policy," said Shawn-Patrick Stensil, a senior energy analyst with the organization.

"An objective of Green Energy Act was to empower citizens and communities to flight climate. What we havent heard from the Ford government is how it will enable Ontarians to take advantage of the declining cost of renewable energy and reduce their greenhouse gas emissions."

"The rejection of wind and solar also comes at a time when renewables are now the cheapest form of new electricity generation in Canada, as they are in many parts of the world," said Keith Brooks, the groups programs director.

Did you capture some amazing images or video? Share it with CTV News and it could appear online or on-air!