Well, just three months after being tabled Ontario’s Liberal government has succeeded in getting its Green Energy and Economy Act passed into law. The bill passed by a vote of 59 in favour and 13 against, and will be effective immediately after it gets Royal Assent (a rubber stamp).
This, with no exaggeration, is an historic event in North America. The new law creates a framework for giving renewable energy and conservation priority access and consideration in the design and expansion of Ontario’s electricity system. It will speed up development by streamlining regulations and approvals and will draw more players, such as municipalities, local utilities, community co-ops, and native groups, into clean-energy projects. Programs to flow from the Green Energy Act, such as a new European-style advanced feed-in tariff aimed at stimulating renewable-energy projects, will make Ontario a major attraction for investors and will set an example for other provinces and states to follow.
“The Green Energy Act will truly set us on the path to a 21st century green economy for Ontario, one that is sustainable, easy on the environment, and focused on the jobs of the future,” said Energy and Infrastructure Minister George Smitherman.
The act has received much praise domestically and abroad. Robert Pollin, co-director of the Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts, called the legislation “excellent.” Similar kudos have come from British economist Sir Nicholas Stern and German legislator Hermann Scheer.
Stefan Gsanger, secretary general of the World Wind Energy Association, said the law represents “an historic international milestone as the act promises to be the most advanced piece of renewable energy legislation in North America.”
It’s not perfect. It has its critics. A lot is left to be proven. But at least the path has been laid and the work can get started. Time to roll up the sleeves, Ontario.
(Note: Thanks to the University of Guelph student newspaper for the above image)