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Alliance Presents Brief to Ministry of Energy

The Renewable Energy Alliance of Ontario (REAO), which includes Local 793 of the International Union of Operating Engineers, is calling on the province to renew its commitment to producing energy via a mix of wind, solar, geothermal and hydro projects.

“Now is the time to invest in renewable energy, not just because of popular support – but because it has never been cheaper,” the Alliance said in a brief presented to the Ministry of Energy on Dec. 14. “Now is the golden opportunity to demonstrate consistent and ongoing support for the renewable energy and clean technology industry.”

The 16-page brief explains in detail why the province must continue to be a world leader when it comes to the investment and development of renewable energy technology.

The Alliance is making five recommendations to the Ministry of Energy. Among the suggestions, it wants the province to commit to a 10-year target of a 50-per-cent renewable energy supply mix that includes wind, solar, geothermal and hydro power.

The brief was submitted to the Ministry of Energy because it is in the process of reviewing the province’s Long Term Energy Plan. A new plan will likely be rolled out in spring.

The brief notes that Ontario needs to support more renewable energy and build on the early progress that has been established.

It also states that renewable energy use continues to increase rapidly around the world and Ontario could be a key player in supplying demand across North America and globally.

The REAO is a broad coalition of employers, labour and industry groups dedicated to working with the Ontario government to ensure renewable energy continues to play a vital role in Ontario’s energy mix. In addition to Local 793, membership includes

  • Laborers’ International Union of North America
  • The Ontario Crane Rental Association
  • The Canadian Wind Energy Association
  • The Canadian Solar Industries Association
  • The Aboriginal Apprenticeship Board of Ontario
  • Rankin Construction
  • Pumpcrete
  • Surespan Wind Energy

The REAO has an online portal set up where members can email letters of support for renewable energy projects to their MPPs. Click here to go to the portal. As of Dec. 14, 194 emails had been sent to 71 different MPPs.

A Facebook page has also been set up by the REAO. Click here to go to the page.

The REAO is concerned about the renewable energy sector because the province announced recently that it plans to scrap $3.8 billion in future wind, solar and biomass projects under the Large Renewable Procurement 2, also known as the LRP2 program.

The brief notes that, with the passage of the Green Energy and Green Economy Act and phase-out of coal-fired electricity generation, Ontarians were pleased to see their government roll out an ambitious effort to develop a renewable energy industry.

By phasing out coal, Ontario undertook the most significant environmental act in North America – the equivalent of taking seven million cars off the road, cutting smog days and creating cleaner air, the brief states.

Nevertheless, the brief states, the future of Ontario’s renewable energy industry is uncertain.

The province is behind schedule on its 2013 Long Term Energy Plan forecast target of a 46-per-cent renewable energy mix by 2025 and has fallen behind other provinces, especially Alberta and Saskatchewan, which both recently announced renewables targets of 30 and 50 per cent, respectively, by 2030, the brief states.

Despite routine public attacks orchestrated by proponents of non-renewable energy sources, the brief states that renewable energy remains popular amongst Ontarians.

According to a recent EKOS Poll, more than 80 per cent of Ontarians say they would like to see their province generating more power from renewable sources.

Wind energy costs 61 per cent less than it did in 2009 while the cost of utility-scale solar projects are down 82 per cent, the brief states.

The brief notes that Ontarians deserve an honest, fact-based conversation about renewable energy and a government that fights back against a constant barrage of myths and half-truths.

One myth, states the brief, is that renewable energy is to blame for high electricity prices while the truth is increased prices are mostly the fault of service charges directly billed to consumers.

A second myth is that Ontario has too much electricity and pays other jurisdictions to take our excess supply. The truth is that as Ontario grows, our demand for energy is growing too.

The Conference Board of Canada estimates that $347 billion in investment in Canada’s electricity system is needed between now and 2030.

The brief states that investments in renewable energy projects have yielded enormous benefits for Ontario, both economic and otherwise.

Nearly $12 billion worth of investments have flowed from both the wind and solar power industries, leading to the creation of at least 180,000 net new jobs from these two industries alone.

As of early 2016, the brief states, about 600 projects with indigenous participation were under way or in development.

For example, the Aamjiwnaang First Nation from the Sarnia area and the Bkejwanong First Nations from Walpole Island are partnering with Northland Power to develop a 100-megawatt wind power project along Lake Huron near Grand Bend.

The brief states that investments have expanded the tax base at a crucial time for governments, with municipalities alone receiving close to $2 billion in revenues in the form of land lease payments, municipal property taxes, and community vibrancy funds.

The investments have also led to the development of a sophis­ticated renewable energy supply chain for the province, the brief states. For example, steel manufactured in Sault Ste. Marie is used to fabricate wind turbine towers in Windsor, solar panels manufactured in Guelph are mounted on steel frames built in Toronto, and wind turbine blades made in Tillsonburg are installed on turbines throughout the province.

The brief states that wind energy is becoming the lowest-cost option for new electricity supply in most Canadian provinces.

Ontario recently procured new wind supply as low as 6.5 cents per kilowatt-hour (or $65 per megawatt hour), which compares very favourably against an average electricity supply cost of 11.14 cents per kilowatt-hour as of May 1, 2016.

The supply of renewable energy is infinite, the brief states, because once a wind farm or solar generating station is built, the price of electricity it produces is set and remains at a relatively steady level for the entire life of the project.

The brief states that Ontario cannot ignore the social and economic opportunities that are being unleashed by relevant energy efficiency policies and measures around the world.

“To do so is to be left behind as jurisdictions like China make massive productivity gains and discover new levels of social wellbeing.”

Following are the recommendations of the REAO:

  • Commit to a 10-year target of a 50-per-cent renewable energy supply mix including wind, solar, geothermal and hydro power. This will help sustain local demand for renewable energy and give renewable energy manufacturers and installers assurance they need to keep their operations active in Ontario.
  • Solidify Ontario’s domestic market for renewable energy. Building on prior successes, Ontario must develop a strategy aimed at enabling exports of both renewable energy related manufactured components as well as the electricity generated from renewable energy sources in order to take advantage of the need for non-emitting renewable energy in neighbouring jurisdictions with renewable energy targets they are unable to supply for themselves.
  • Maintain low levels of greenhouse gas emissions from the electricity sector even in the face of potential risks to supply/demand and increased electrification of other sectors of the economy.
  • Ensure a robust and competitive bid process for non-emitting resources to secure lowest cost of power while managing greenhouse gas emissions. It is unclear how existing and future generations will commercially operate once contracts have expired. The mechanisms that will be used in the future to help ensure Ontario has adequate resource capacity is just as important as pre-defining Ontario’s future supply mix based on policy objectives of affordable, non-emitting and reliable resources.
  • Follow through on the commitment to create a robust solar net metering regulatory framework that encourages cost efficiencies, customer choice and innovative business models to transition away from the FIT Program effectively.

Renewable Energy Alliance Launches Portal

Following is a letter from Local 793 business manager Mike Gallagher on the importance of renewable energy projects and the launch of a Renewable Energy Alliance of Ontario web portal.

Dear Brothers and Sisters:

I am writing to you on an extremely important matter to our union. Thousands of well-paying jobs in the wind energy sector are at stake.

Since 2008, wind energy projects have invested over $14 billion in Ontario’s economy and have created over 200,000 jobs in Ontario, many of which have benefited IUOE members. 

The government of Ontario has recently indicated that it may be waffling in its commitment to many of these high-paying jobs. We can not stand still and let this happen.

That’s why we have played a lead role in creating the Renewable Energy Alliance of Ontario (REAO). REAO is a broad coalition of employers, labour and industry groups dedicated to working with the Ontario government to ensure renewable energy, including wind, continues to play a vital role in Ontario’s energy mix.

Our alliance has created a web portal that allows you to express support for these jobs to your local member of provincial parliament with a few simple clicks on your keyboard. I urge you all to go to www.renewourfuture.ca to make our union’s voice heard.

Together we can show the government that our voices matter. We must act now to protect well-paying jobs for our brothers and sisters.

Sincerely,

mike-signature

 

 

Mike Gallagher
Business Manager
IUOE Local 793

Coalition Formed to Promote Renewable Energy Projects

A coalition of union, employer and Aboriginal representatives has been formed to convince the Ontario government that renewable energy ventures such as wind, solar and biomass projects should continue to be part of the province’s long-term energy plan.

The Renewable Energy Alliance of Ontario (REAO) maintains the government must stick to its target of 50 per cent renewables by 2025 if it is to maintain its place as a world leader in renewable energy in the face of stiff international competition from China and India.

The coalition was formed in October after Local 793 business manager Mike Gallagher arranged a meeting at the union’s head office in Oakville to find out how other unions, industry employers and representatives of Aboriginal groups wanted to respond to the provincial government’s sudden decision to axe $3.8 billion in future wind, solar and biomass projects across Ontario under the Large Renewable Procurement 2, or LRP2 program.

The cancellations will result in the loss of contracts for up to 1,000 megawatts of power from solar, wind and other renewable energy sources.

“Renewables such as wind and solar are the safest, most economical, environmentally friendly and healthiest way for us to generate energy for our province,” Gallagher said in a statement.

“Investment in renewables also creates many jobs for Operating Engineers and other building trades in Ontario. Renewable energy should remain a vital part of Ontario’s long-term energy plan.”

More than two dozen representatives of employers and unions attended the initial meeting, along with Sara Monture, a representative of the Aboriginal Apprenticeship Board of Ontario.

The coalition members decided to hire consultant Hill+Knowlton Strategies to develop key messages and materials, set up meetings with decision-makers and conduct a media and digital campaign. The consultant is also preparing a brief that will be presented to government.

A logo has been developed and the coalition has set up a website at www.renewourfuture.ca to galvanize the millions of Ontarians who support renewable energy projects.

The website dispels some of the myths surrounding renewable energy and explains the charges on hydro bills. Members can also send a message of support on renewables to their MPP.

Meanwhile, representatives of the coalition have been attending meetings around the province on the future of Ontario’s Long-Term Energy Plan. The consultations have been arranged by the provincial Ministry of Energy to get input from the public and stakeholders.

Coalition members have been making the following points:

  1. Renewable energy helps to stabilize long-term energy costs.
  2. Ontarians support renewable energy by wide margins, and are in favour of increased investment in renewable energy technologies.
  3. Investment in renewable energy technology has resulted in the creation of good paying jobs.
  4. As Ontario moves toward the implementation of the Climate Change Action Plan, there is a projected increase in demand for energy and Ontario will need to meet this increase in a cost effective and carbon neutral way.
  5. Ontario must stick to the target of 50 per cent renewables by 2025 if it is to maintain its place as a world leader in renewable energy.
  6. Renewable energy is now as cost effective as other sources of energy. It is not the reason Ontarians have been facing higher hydro rates.

Meetings have been held in St. Catharines and Guelph and a meeting is scheduled for Nov. 22 in Pembroke.

Following is a schedule of the remaining meetings:

  • Nov. 23 – Nepean Sportsplex, 1701 Woodroffe Ave, Nepean – 6 to 8 p.m.
  • Nov. 24 – Holiday Inn, 2 Princess Street, Kingston – 6 to 8 p.m.
  • Nov. 28 – Holiday Inn, 1855 Huron Church Rd., Windsor – 6 to 8 p.m.
  • Nov. 28 – Holiday Inn, 30 Fairway Rd. S., Kitchener – 6 to 8 p.m.
  • Nov. 29 – Best Western Plus Stoneridge Inn and Conference Centre, 6675 Burtwistle Lane, London – 6 to 8 p.m.
  • Nov. 30 – Mississauga Living Arts Centre, 4141 Living Arts Dr., Mississauga – 6 to 8 p.m.