Ford Government Introduces Legislation to Slash Green Energy Act
The Ford-led Ontario government has moved to fulfill one of the election campaign promises made during the spring elections, by introducing legislation to repeal the Green Energy Act, claiming it tramples municipal rights. The Act was targeted to boost the province’s renewable energy industry. Thegovernment is taking the stand that any renewable energy projects to be embarked on in the future, must first demonstrate the need for the electricity to be generated before getting approval.
Former Liberal premier, Dalton McGuinty had in an effort to improve Ontario’s solar and wind energy supply, introduced the law in 2009. This law was widely criticized as causing an increase in the cost in the province's electricity and power.
According to infrastructure Minister Monte McNaughton, scrapping the law will guarantee that municipalities reclaimthe authority to plan renewable projects, this power was retracted under the Green Energy Act. "Well-connected energy insiders made fortunes putting up wind farms and solar panels that gouge hydro consumers in order to generate electricity that Ontario doesn't need," McNaughton added. He said, implying that the Act had only been set up for the personal gains of a few highly placed individuals.
“The Green Energy Act allowed the previous government to trample over the rights of families, businesses and municipalities across rural Ontario. But we believe the people of Ontario should have the final say about what gets built in their communities."
"The Green Energy Act represents the largest transfer of money from the poor and middle class to the rich in Ontario's history," said Energy Minister Greg Rickford in support of the notion.
Federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna quoted on National Observer, spoke on the proposed cancellation, accusing premier Ford of "taking action to move away from the biggest economic opportunity of the century." Further responding to a question from National Observer at the G7 environment ministers meeting in Halifax, she said,
"It’s really unfortunate that the Government of Ontario is spending most of its time rolling back climate action, and fighting climate action in court — that’s money that could be much better spent, and time that could be much better spent in tackling climate change, and also taking advantage of the huge economic opportunity that has been discussed today by leaders around the world, by businesses around the world."
Former Liberal energy minister Glenn Thibeault, who has been critical of the legislation in the past, expressed concerns about its repeal, calling it a "massive step backwards."
"They talk about municipalities having a voice but we saw that they would go as far as reaching into our Constitution to remove people's voices," Thibeault told National Observer in a telephone interview.
"At the end of the day, when we turn backwards for short-term gains in order to please a few insiders – and only a few very specific industries would benefit from (the repeal) – we lose an emerging market that was growing in Ontario, backed by government policy and that is a shame."