It's easier to be green 0
Until recently, it would take 10 years and $38 million to pay off the costs of installing five wind turbines.
But if tariffs proposed under the Green Energy Act are approved, the turbines will pay for themselves much faster.
The act is giving renewed hope to such people as Mike Perry of the Kawartha Environmental Energy Project. A couple of years ago, the Fenelon Falls lawyer and environmental activist and his group had to give up their plan to build wind turbines in the Kawartha Lakes. Ontario Hydro was paying only 11 cents a kilowatt hour, too little money to justify such a large initial capital expenditure.
A few weeks ago, the province unveiled the Green Energy Act to promote alternative sources of electricity. As part of the act, there are set rates that Ontario Hydro will pay people who want to contribute to Ontario's power grid.
"The act supports renewable energy and conservation," Perry told about 100 people gathered at a "green" symposium sponsored by the Haliburton County Development Corporation at Fleming College in Haliburton on Friday. "It's what a lot of us have been talking about for a long time now."
He used the analogy of a pizza. The Green Energy Act was the shell; "all of the toppings need to be added to fill our hunger for renewable energy."
Those toppings include power from wind, water, the sun, tidal forces, biomasses, biofuels and geothermal.
The act is important because it commits the province to the ideals of sustainability by mandating
- the principles of conservation
- an obligation to connect and prioritize renewable energy sources
- guaranteed fixed prices for green energy
- energy audits
- and higher efficiency standards in the Ontario Building Act.
These initiatives will not only help the environment but benefit the economy, Perry said. Ontario has a wind energy potential of $79 billion, creating 50,000 jobs.
"Every 5,000 megawatts of power produces 13,000 jobs," he said, and those jobs are for both skilled and unskilled labourers.
These new green jobs will help Ontario cope with the loss of its manufacturing base. Perry quoted energy minister George Smitherman who said "the best power out there is in the minds of 13 million Ontario."
Perry encouraged everyone present to support the act and lobby for its enactment. People can sign an online petition from the Green Energy Alliance, provide submissions to the environment registry before March 29, participate in consultation hearings about the proposed tariffs and host a local town hall meeting with the alliance.
"We've come so far and it's now up to us to shape and mould [the act] to go in the direction we want," Perry said.
To find out more about the act, go to www.greenenergyact.ca or www.mei.gov.on.ca.