Archive for May, 2011

Green Energy in the Electoral Crosshairs

Ontario’s Green Energy Act is attracting considerable attention in the run-up to the October provincial election. At issue is the Act’s contribution to increasing electricity prices in the province, with critics saying renewable electricity is responsible for about half of the recent and projected cost increases. Supporters say there’s no way that renewable energy is having that big an impact since the total amount of “green” generating capacity coming on stream is only a couple of percentage points which couldn’t possible play that big a role in electricity prices expected to rise by about 10 per cent a year in the next half decade.

In the midst of an election campaign — which is already under way — the truth may be hard to find. The sticker price of 80 cents a kilowatt hour for small solar PV generators is a shocker for many of us, but keep in mind that price only applies to a small percentage of the renewable energy projects moving through Ontario’s Feed-In-Tariff program. Most projects receive considerably less: 44.3 cents for solar PV between 10 kw and 10 MW, 13.5 cents for on-shore wind, and 10.3 cents for landfill gas. And keep in mind that of the 17,291 MW of electricity which could come on stream under the FIT program, 10,450 MW (60 per cent) is expected to come from wind and 4,989 from solar PV. Those residential roof-top installations that dot the countryside and bring the 80 cents/kWh total 265 MW — less than two per cent of the total renewable energy likely to come on-stream in the next few years. If we still believe in basic math, it’s hard to see how these little projects could make much of a contribution to the electricity price hikes we are seeing.
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