Dozens of green energy projects in the region are on the chopping block as the provincial government last weekend announced it was cancelling 758 contracts. Along with axing the cap-and-trade carbon scheme, the move follows Premier Doug Ford’s pledge to roll back provisions of the Liberals’ Green Energy Act.
“We clearly promised we would cancel these unnecessary and wasteful energy projects as part of our plan to cut hydro rates by 12 per cent for families, farmers and small businesses,” said Energy Minister Greg Rickford in a statement released July 13. “In the past few weeks, we have taken significant steps toward keeping that promise.”
The government says the move will save $790 million, even after the payout of as-yet-specified cancellation fees, courtesy of eliminating planned large renewable procurement and feed-in tariff contracts.
Among those hit are the Waterloo Catholic District School Board, which planned some rooftop solar projects, and the Grand River Conservation Authority’s bid for a waterpower project at the Parkhill Dam in Cambridge. None of those on the list includes projects in Woolwich or Wellesley townships.
“It did not impact any of our existing projects,” noted Chuck Martin of Elmira-based Woolwich Bio-En Power and Marbro Capital, who has been involved in a number of renewable energy ventures.
On the downside, he added, the government announcement really shrinks the chances for future construction of anaerobic digesters, for which the company had been building a reputation. None of the third-party projects that they’ve been involved with are involved, but those in the “tire-kicking” stages appear unlikely to go ahead.
“There’s a lot of uncertainty in the market right now.”
On the cap-and-trade front, the government decision has eliminated a potential market for renewable natural gas in the province, Martin said.
Where Bio-En had been discussing a potential deal with Union Gas, it now has to look at offset options in British Columbia and even California. Similar to a recent Union Gas request for proposals, FortisBC is seeking renewable offsets.
“It’s a new market that we would be pursuing in B.C. instead of Ontario. It would have been nicer to work closer to home.”
While the energy file is in flux just now, Martin said he expects the new government will eventually replace the cancelled programs with ones of their own.
“They can’t do nothing,” he said, noting there are target reductions that, if not met by the province, could see Ottawa step in. “It can’t be totally ignored.”