by Jonathan Jenkins, Toronto Sun
The province should scrap sections in the Green Energy Act that allow the Ontario Energy Board to effectively levy environmentally friendly taxes, an industry lobby group says.
“The Green Energy Act has granted the minister of energy the ability to use the OEB as an instrument to collect new ‘green energy’ taxes. This is an inappropriate use of the OEB’s powers and should be repealed,” according to the Ontario Energy Association, that represents power producers, manufacturers and energy consultants.
“The OEB best serves the public interest as the independent regulator of the province’s electricity and natural gas sectors,” the association says in a report released Wednesday.
The Green Energy Act was passed in 2008 and establishes subsidies for solar, wind and biomass generation projects.
It also limited the ability of local governments to block such developments.
Overall the OEA supports the broad thrust of Ontario’s energy policy, including phasing out coal, renewing nuclear plants, and encouraging green generation.
But consumers are having a hard time understanding their bills and why the cost of electricity is rising so quickly, 10% to 20% last year and an estimated 3.5% annually for the next 20 years, the report says.
Backsliding on the commitment to make local opposition to energy development more difficult is also causing confusion and alarm for investors, it says, pointing in particular to the cancellation of a natural gas plant in Oakville.
“Energy developers and investors need to have confidence in the stability of the political and regulatory environment,” the report says.
“The cancellation of the western GTA gas plant is an example of the kind of decision-making that can deter potential investors.”
And the OEA would like to see the confusing thicket of agencies regulating the industry trimmed back.
“The mandates of the agencies require clarification because they were initially established in a much different context,” it says.