24, 2004: It’s about time Ontario adopted a
long-term strategy to reduce our dependence on non-renewable
energy for our electricity needs. The Electricity Restructuring
Act, 2004, the subject of public hearings throughout August
by the Standing Committee on Social Policy of our Provincial
Legislature, takes some steps in this direction but lacks
clarity and commitment to local production of energy in many
communities by small and medium-size entrepreneurs.
In its presentation to the committee last week, the Christian
Farmers Federation pointed out that renewable and alternative
energy production is a way to bring value to farming without
producing more crops or livestock. Done right, the legislation
can encourage farm entrepreneurs to diversify into energy
First, the legislation needs to guarantee that small and
medium-size entrepreneurs will have access to the distribution
grid. Language that might result in enabling regulations is
not satisfactory. A “right to connect” needs to
be specified in the legislation.
Second, the legislation needs to guarantee the basics of
a pricing system. The payback period for investments in alternative
energy sources is long. Fixed-term price agreements have to
be mandated in the legislation. Enabling distributors to buy
or invest in renewable or alternative energy sources is not
enough. We need a commitment to a pricing system that enables
the participation of small and medium-size entrepreneurs in
Third, electricity distributors should be required to accommodate
access for small and medium-size electricity generators as
they design the electricity transmission grid of the future.
.Fourth, this legislation needs the support of other legislation
and provincial policy. For example, energy generation should
be recognized as an accessory use for land zoned either agricultural
or rural. Zone changes should not be necessary for windmills
constructed primarily for on-farm electricity needs. Wind
farms, on the other hand, need special attention in land use
If load management, conservation and time-of-day pricing
are implemented with care, farm entrepreneurs will find many
opportunities to generate energy for their own use, especially
during periods of peak electricity demand and higher prices.
They have the land base, the entrepreneurial experience and
access to many potential energy sources such as biodiesel,
ethanol, solar, water and wind.
Our legislators should not be satisfied with making weak
promises in the Electricity Restructuring Act. As it stands,
the legislation will only require the civil service “to
promote the use of cleaner energy sources and technologies….”
The act needs to be rewritten so that it will deliver. It
needs to create a Renewable and Alternative Energy Bureau
with a mandate to guarantee that farmers, countryside landowners
and rural communities will be part of the economic potential
of redesigning Ontario’s electricity generation.
Notes for CFFO’s presentation to the Standing Committee
on Social Policy, Legislative Assembly of Ontario on August
12, 2004, re Bill 100, Electricity Restructuring Act, 2004
can be found at: www.christianfarmers.org/sub_policies_and_issues/
Background on the Ontario Electricity Restructuring Act,
2004 can be found at: www.energy.gov.on.ca/index.cfm?fuseaction=english.news&back
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