Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Hudak seeks end to costly subsidies - PC leader’s bill tilted at turbines - London Free Press Article

PC leader’s bill tilted at turbines

GREEN ENERGY: Hudak seeks end to costly subsidies
By JONATHAN SHER, The London Free Press
Last Updated: March 7, 2012 7:24am

Ontario Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak. Ontario Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak will introduce a private member's bill Wednesday to scrap new subsidies for costly wind and solar farms.

While the bill wouldn't affect farmers with contracts for small green energy projects, proposed industrial wind and solar farms could face renewed local opposition and a questionable future.

Gone would be new subsidies that Hudak says are pushing electricity rates sky-high and choking economic growth.

"I worry about the impact (subsidies) will have on jobs," he told The Free Press.

Mega-projects already approved, but not connected to the power grid would face an uncertain future: Hudak's bill would require Ontario's energy minister to meet with municipal councils and to decide whether to do the hookups or cancel the contracts and pay penalties.

Penalties may be cheaper than adding costly green energy to an electrical grid with so much oversupply of electricity that Ontario sells it at a loss and even gives it away to avert an overload, Hudak said.

The Tory leader vowed in last year's election to scrap a Liberal tariff program that paid big subsidies to generate wind, solar and biomass power, far more than what consumers pay for electricity.

The top price paid is now 80 cents a kilowatt hour for small, rooftop solar arrays, while wind power is getting 13 cents a kWh, about three times the market rate.

The clash over wind made the Conservatives a popular choice in last year's election in rural Ontario, where opposition to industrial wind turbines runs high and which spurned the governing Liberals.

Premier Dalton McGuinty has taken steps to defuse critics, asking Energy Minister Chris Bentley of London to review the tariff program and promising last week to restore some role for municipalities.