by John Spears, Toronto Star
Ontario’s Liberal government has entrenched the legal rights of 1,800 proposed renewable energy contracts – making it impossible for a new government to cancel them. The Liberals have changed the terms of contracts under its feed-in tariff program or FIT. Under the old system, the Ontario Power Authority, which signs the contracts with power developers, could unilaterally terminate agreements at a relatively late stage of the approval process.
But a new directive from energy minister Brad Duguid will entrench the contracts at a much earlier stage in the pipeline.
That will protect 1,800 contracts now in the pipeline from cancellation.
Collectively, the projects represent 3,500 megawatts of generating capacity, or close to 10 per cent of the province’s current total capacity.
The issue is a crucial one, since Conservative leader Tim Hudak has vowed to cancel the FIT program if the Conservatives win the provincial election on Oct. 6.
Hudak has said the high prices paid under the FIT program are “unsustainable.”
While the Conservatives would not tear up existing contracts, projects that were only part way through the approval process were vulnerable to cancellation.
Duguid said the changes will provide assurance for renewable power developers, and their suppliers, that their projects are likely to proceed.
“There’s no question Tim Hudak’s irresponsible plan to dismantle our programs and destroy our clean energy economy is something that’s creating a great deal of instability in our economy right now,” Duguid said.
Proposed projects will still have to get environmental approval, show that they’re going to meet requirements for domestic content and submit a financing plan before they can proceed.