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Larger energy projects on tap

The Ontario government announced Tuesday plans for the second phase of its push to increase the amount of green electricity produced in the province.

The government revealed Tuesday that, along with the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO), a request for qualifications process is to be issued by Aug. 1 for the second round of the Large Renewable Procurement (LRP) process.

The second round of the LRP is to award contracts for up to 930 megawatts of renewable energy, including up to 600 megawatts of wind, up to 250 megawatts of solar photovoltaic, up to 50 megawatts of hydroelectricity, and up to 30 megawatts of bioenergy.

The second round of potential contracts is almost twice the size of the first round of procurement

The first phase originally called for up to 565 megawatts of renewable energy, including up to 300 megawatts from new wind projects, 140 megawatts from solar, 50 megawatts of bioenergy, and 75 megawatts of hydro electricity.

The IESO received 103 project proposals in the first round of the procurement program, and last month it announced 16 contract offers totalling 455 megawatts.

The contracts offered last month included five wind projects totalling almost 300 megawatts with a weighted average price of $85/MWh and an approximate weighted price range of $64 to $105/MWh, seven solar contracts totalling almost 140 megawatts with a weighted average price of $156/MWh and an approximate weighted price range of $141 to $178/MWh, and four hydroelectric contracts totalling 15.5 megawatts with a weighted average price of $175/MWh and an approximate weighted price range of $173 to $177/MWh.

None of the solar projects proposed for Kingston were awarded contracts in the first round, neither were the large wind projects proposed for North Frontenac Township and Addington Highlands Township.

Opponents of those projects, including Bon Echo Area Residents Against Turbines and North Frontenac Township council, argue the construction of dozens of wind turbines damages the environment and the turbines’ operation is unhealthy for wildlife and human health.

While they were happy those projects were passed over in the first round, they expect the same projects will be submitted for consideration in the second and third rounds of the procurement process.

The government, when the first round of contracts were announced, noted that three-quarters of the contracts were awarded to projects in municipalities that declared themselves willing hosts. The three proposals approved for unwilling hosts were wind energy projects.

North Frontenac Township declared itself an unwilling host last year.

Opponents to the process admit that it will be more and more difficult for the government to avoid approving projects in unwilling hosts.

“I’m not surprised of the announcement as it is the Liberals’ way of flexing their muscle to say that they are not willing to back down from this absurd program in the face of criticism across the province,” North Frontenac Mayor Ron Higgins wrote in an email to the Whig-Standard. “The actual RFP is a year away and I am much better prepared to address this than I was this time last year.”

The government said that since 2003, the Liberal government’s focus on renewable energy has attracted billions of dollars in private sector investment that is estimated to have created more than 42,000 jobs in the green energy sector.

“Ontario is leading the pack in renewable energy – delivering jobs and success in a low-carbon economy,” said Sarah Petrevan of Clean Energy Canada. “Today’s announcement is timely and guarantees that Ontarians will reap the benefits of clean energy now and in the future so we don’t have to increase our reliance on sources of electricity that pollute our air.”

According to the government, Ontario has become a leader in renewable energy development, with more than 30 solar and wind energy manufacturers setting up shop in the province.

“It’s crucial for governments to support and invest in renewable energy to combat climate change. We need to stop using fossil fuels and shift to clean energy instead. Ontario is making this shift,” added Keith Brooks, clean economy program director for Environmental Defence. “The province phased out coal and became a North American green energy leader. Today’s announcement commits the province to continuing that leadership, which is good news for the environment and for the tens of thousands of people employed in Ontario’s renewable energy industry.”