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Wilson sees red over Green Energy Act

Alliston Herald: John Edwards - November 10, 2009

Simcoe-Grey MPP Jim Wilson had some harsh words for the provincial government and its proposed Green Energy Act.

The new piece of legislation, which could be approved in three weeks, is designed to focus on the creation and use of green energy sources and renewable fuels.

One of the plans is to focus on community energy sources such as wind farms, which the government says will save money.

According to the Green Energy Act Alliance, the legislation will provide lower cost energy to Ontarians.

"Evidence submitted to the Ontario Energy Board (OEB) hearings show that a green energy powered electricity system with a greater emphasis on conservation and efficiency would be at least 11 per cent less expensive, and potentially as high as 32 per cent less expensive, than the Ontario Power Authority's (OPA) proposed Integrated Power System Plan (IPSP)," maintains the Alliance.

Wilson disagrees.

The former energy minister, who introduced competition into the marketplace, said wind farms and solar energy would end up costing more than nuclear power and clean coal technology.

He said the government should be re-investing in the province's energy plants.

"If this was such a great thing, I'd have done it 10 years ago," Wilson said. "The Liberal government has managed to take the same action we did - making it easier for private sector risk takers to invest in Ontario -- and use that to completely undermine a competitive market for energy in Ontario. It's a price fix act."

According to greenenergyact.ca, the legislation will see 100 mega watts of renewable, distributed electricity generation within the next 5 years, $100 million of investment in renewable energy, creation of jobs and more energy dollars - about 75 per cent - staying at home.

Wilson suspects that many of the jobs will be short-term construction jobs and not long-term employment.

"Some communications guy in the backroom pulled that number out of a hat," Wilson said of a proposed 50,000 jobs being created through the legislation. "You're going to pay a huge amount of money for a small amount of eventual bang."

Under the legislation, municipalities will have little decision-making power when it comes to provincially funded green energy projects.

At Monday's council meeting, Counc. Norman Sandberg suggested that the municipalities should have no say if the province is going to give them a little amount of say.

Wilson said Premier Dalton McGuinty is trying to prevent NIMBYism, but in many cases, he is taking away the rights of residents to have a say into what is happening in their community.

"If I were Premier McGuinty, I would be worried by Bill 150, the Green Energy Act," Wilson said. "As an Ontario consumer and taxpayer, I am frightened by it."

Wilson said the municipal politicians would feel the brunt of the government's decisions.

One of the renewable fuels included in the plan is ethanol.

Despite the act, Collingwood Mayor Chris Carrier said it likely won't impact the town's public nuisance charge application against Collingwood Ethanol.

"It's clearly been stated by the MOE that this facility is creating an adverse effect to the community," he said. "It will have zero effect."