A wind energy association is disputing Sarnia-Lambton MPP Bob Bailey’s claim wind energy isn’t affordable.
Bailey and Ontario’s PCs have said they will cancel the Feed in Tariff program the Liberal government has used to attract wind and other renewable energy projects to the province.
“We want to return electricity generation and power generation in Ontario to be a job producer, and not a social policy to try and get people to support wind turbine-generated electricity,” Bailey said.
The Tories point to the Feed in Tariff program, and the province’s Global Adjustment charge, as causing rising electricity prices the party says harm Ontario’s manufacturing sector.
“We see industry, already, taking another look at where they’re going to locate,” Bailey said.
“We’ve lost a lot of industry to Quebec and our neighbours.”
Robert Hornung, president of the Canadian Wind Energy Association, said comments by Bailey and the PC’s “perpetuate the myth that wind and renewable energy is the driving force behind electricity prices increases in the province.”
Hornung said the Global Adjustment charge is a payment made to electricity producers to reflect the difference between the market price and their contract price.
“The vast bulk of those payments do not actually go to wind or solar energy,” he said. “They go to traditional energy sources.”
Hornung added the Ontario Energy Board says wind energy is responsible for only about 6% of the increase in electricity prices.
A recent study prepared for the association says taxes, delivery charges, nuclear, hydroelectricity sources and natural gas-fired generation were responsible for more of the price increase between 2009 and 2012 than wind energy was.
Hornung said that while electricity prices are expected to continue increasing, “we’re quite confident that going forward, wind and renewable energy will be cheaper than proceeding with more nuclear.”
Wind and renewables are also expected to be cheaper over time than natural gas-generated power, he said.
“We do have to make sure our electricity is as cost-competitive as possible,” Hornung said, “but to argue that electricity prices have been increasing in Ontario because of renewable energy is quite simply false.”
But, Bailey said his party has promised to end the Feed in Tariff program if the Tories comes into power in Ontario.
“We would not have these unsustainable energy subsidies,” he said.
Existing contracts with wind companies would be honoured.
“If there’s a wind tower up and it’s working, we’ll honour it,” Bailey said.
“If it’s not up yet, we’re going to take a look at those and see how we can mitigate those contracts.”
Hornung said the wind energy industry “would expect that any government respects existing contracts that are in place.”
He added a Feed in Tariff isn’t the only method governments around the world use to procure wind energy.
What his industry will be looking for is to see if there is a “continued interest” in wind and renewable energy in Ontario, Hornung said.
“The industry has certainly worked with many different types of procurement mechanisms and has succeeded in many different places with them.”
The association says Ontario is the leader of wind energy in Canada with more than 2,000 MW of installed capacity supplying more than 3% of the province’s electricity demand.
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