In an exclusive interview with edie the province’s Minister of International Trade and Investment Sandra Pupatello outlined how the new Green Energy Act aimed to make Ontario more attractive to those looking at investing in or delivering renewable energy infrastructure.

Ontario has long been ahead of the pack in North America in its desire to develop a green economy and in 2003 made a commitment to totally eliminate coal-fired power generation by 2014 and has made steady progress towards this goal.

“We have to build enough energy we have used coal for historically and at this point we’re only using coal during peak demand,” said Ms Pupatello.

“Just this past week we’ve tabled a Green Energy Act to spur that move further.”

While Ontario is likely to remain reliant on nuclear generation – the technology currently meets 50% of the province’s energy needs with new reactors in the pipeline – the Minister said renewables were playing a growing role, solar and wind transforming the energy mix and biomass also significant.

The new energy act had three significant parts – first is a feed-in tariff that reliably guarantees rates for those supplying low-carbon energy to the grid to give investors confidence that revenue will be consistent.

The next is the right to connect – an acknowledgement that if companies do build renewable energy infrastructure, they will be guaranteed permission to connect to the web and sell their energy.

Finally is a commitment from government to streamline the process for granting permission for the development of projects, to try to avoid long waits for investors as plans sit on the drawing board waiting for zoning and environmental impact assessments.

Part of this will also be a strategy to level the playing field, to ensure parity for schemes across the province.

Incentives such as these coupled with the reassuring stability of Canada’s banking system would provide an attractive package for international investors, she argued.

“I think that’s what people are looking for at the moment,” she said.

“Now that we have new attractive feed in tariff programme they can make investments in Ontario with a virtually guaranteed return,” she said.

The province’s environmental aspirations go beyond a desire to bring inward investment, however.

“We think that if we’re going to sit at the table with the rest of the world we have to be contributors to the global solutions,” said Minister Pupatello.

Sam Bond

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