Workshop focuses on going green; Province needs to follow Germany's lead on green initiatives, participants told;

The Sudbury Star: February 19, 2009

Renewable energy is the solution to both climate change and the economic crisis, the Green Energy Act Alliance told a Sudbury audience Wednesday.

But to get there, the provincial government needs to pass laws that make renewable energy a priority, so ensuring enough windmills are erected, solar panels installed and biodigesters operating.

"The fundamental provisions we expect to see in Ontario's Green Energy Act flow from similar legislation adopted in Germany," by Roberto Garcia, marketing and membership services manager for the Ontario Sustainable Energy Association, said in a release. "That country is now a world leader able to produce 20,000 megawatts of new green power, developed in less time than it would take to build a 1,000-megawatt nuclear plant.

"Germany is also able to meet tough climate change targets by avoiding the emission of 100 million tonnes of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere a year, while a quarter of a million new green collar jobs have been created, all for just an extra $5 a month per household."

The Ontario Sustainable Energy Association, a founding member of the Green Energy Act Alliance, organized the meeting, held at Cambrian College.

The groups talked about what they think will be in the Green Energy Act, which the provincial government will table later this month.

"A Green Energy Act will bring economic prosperity and new green jobs to Ontario, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and allow individuals, communities and companies to become energy producers and conservers," Garcia said.

More than 50 people attended the Sudbury workshop, including area business people.

Many at the workshop expressed an interest in local, community-owned green power.

Panelists who presented at the workshop included a representative from Greater Sudbury Utilities and several green energy developers.

The Green Energy Act Alliance is recommending guaranteed access to the electricity grid for all producers of sustainable energy, priority purchase of green electricity before coal and nuclear power, fair prices, fixed over the long term for renewables, and a strong commitment to continually improve conservation and efficiency.

Across Ontario, farmers, First Nations and communities are eager to contribute to the province's electricity supply by producing clean, renewable energy, the alliance said.

However, they are being hindered by outdated regulations that slow the adoption of renewable energy technology, a lack of access to the grid to sell their energy and opposition from lobbyists for the coal and nuclear power industry.

"This is a chance for communities that are willing to get together and develop their own energy infrastructure, whether it be solar, wind, biomass or geothermal power. The act could be a boon for neighbourhoods in Sudbury, and across Ontario," said Kyle Gascoigne, a student in the Energy Systems Technology Program at Cambrian College.

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