Green Energy in Ontario: Power to the People

Sir Adam Beck, architect of Ontario’s publicly owned power utility.

The Ontario Government passed the Green Energy Act in 2009.  This act was designed to encourage the development of green energy in Ontario in order to meet the government's stated goal of eliminating coal from the energy mix in the province by 2014, and to provide job opportunities in renewable energy for Ontarians.

As of 2014 the last coal fired plant was closed down.  As of 2013, the renewable energy sector provided 23,700 direct jobs.  The sector is growing by over 30% per year leaving Ontario poised to capitalise on the expertise it has developed as renewable energy expands across Canada.

The Feed In Tariff model that is the central feature of the Green Energy Act provides a fixed contract for 20 years for the energy produced by renewable energy projects.  This allows for a predictable, stable revenue stream around which a reliable business plan can be constructed.

The legislation closely resembles the successful program in Germany which has been in place for 20 years and has catapulted Germany to the forefront of both green energy development as well as creating a "green" industry that has led to a worldwide surge in the adoption of solar power.   

In Germany, 80% of the wind projects were first developed as community power projects.  It was only after the technology had proven to be profitable that larger financial institutions and utility operators began to invest in the sector (and indeed bought out many of the smaller projects).  There are over 800 renewable energy co-operatives in Germany.

Many Ontarians may not be aware that electricity was first conceived of and developed in this province as a communally-owned resource.  Ontario Hydro was the first publicly-owned electric utility in the world.  The electric sign lit by the newly created hydro system to celebrate its inauguration in 1906 read: "For the People".

Given this history, it is especially fitting that as many Ontarians as possible be given the opportunity to participate in the creation of green energy under the new act.  Options for Green Energy is pleased to play a part in making this possible.

Sir Adam Beck, architect of Ontario's publicly owned power utility