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Liberal changes not worth all the fanfare

Orangeville Citizen — June 6, 2013

THE MINISTRY OF ENERGY is to be commended for reverting to competitive bidding for commercial-scale wind and solar farm contracts, but that appears to be the only substantive change it is making to the Green Energy Act with respect to the feed-in-tariff program, despite the fanfare.

Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli admitted Friday, however, that the changes still require “fine tuning,” so there could be further amendments to come.

Early consultation with municipalities as a requirement for approvals was cited as something new. Most municipal authorities would tell you that was supposed to have been a requirement all along.

According to Minister Chiarelli, municipalities would now be involved in the siting of wind and solar installations but not have the power of a veto. In reality, many, if not most, southern Ontario municipalities either oppose the installations or have called for impractical setbacks, some as great as 2,000 metres (about 1.2 miles).

The government’s minimum setback is 550 metres, which it states is the most restrictive in at least North America. The Energy ministry continues to adhere to its aim at nearly 11,000 MW of renewable energy by 2018, and prefers that the source is close to the market.

It takes little more than a scan of a few maps to recognize that the province cannot attain its renewable energy aim if setbacks are to be much more than the prescribed 550 metres.

On the basis of that, along with the opinions of municipalities plus the lack of a municipal veto, we find nothing new about the GEA announcement except the return to competitive bidding for large wind and solar farms.     http://www.citizen.on.ca/news/2013-06-06/Editorial/Not_worth_all_the_fanfare.html

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