Thursday, 6 October 2011

FIT program needed to save jobs

Orangeville Citizen
Letter to the Editor
October 6, 2011
Dennis German, P.Geo.

The LTTE follows.  For the original article, click here.  Dennis German is co-owner of German Energy Alternatives (GEA)

We are all interested in a time for change. While change is the platform of the opposition leader, there is a clear message that there is no direction or plan for change in regard to our electricity system in the province. We need to hear exactly what the plan is for our hydro system. The messages we are hearing are confusing, misleading and all have a particular political agenda given where we are in regard to the upcoming election. Electricity drives our economy, provides the power we need to manufacture, and live day to day.
Are we going to remain dependent on oil, gas, and coal fired power generation and continue to emit millions of tonnes of CO2e and green house gases into the atmosphere every year? This is costing Ontario over 3 billion dollars annually due to health issues related to this type of power generation, (Source: Ontario’s Surgeon General). Furthermore, we can expect to see over 5 Billion Dollars a year in 2020 and projected to increase to 43 Billion by the year 2050, in combined health and environmental costs as well, (Source: Toronto Star Article Sept 29, 2011)
Will we simply pass the economic and environmental burden onto the next generation OR will we be proactive and make the transition to a new energy economy today and lead the charge for a environmentally sustainable, renewable and healthy future?
Will we turn our focus to nuclear or natural Gas. These sources of generation also come at an economic and environmental cost. Fuel for both types of power generation are susceptible to price increase. Where will this cost be in 10 or 20 years? What was the price of Gasoline at the pumps 15 years ago? 65 cents a litre? What is it now? - $1.30 dollars per litre. The reality is, traditional forms of energy/electricity are increasing in costs, both economically and compounded by environmental and health related impacts.
An article posted in the Toronto Star, Dec 9, 2005 “$70B boost urged for power supply” clearly describes the need for 70 BILLION dollars to upgrade the electricity generation, transmission and distribution system in the province. This cost was created over the last few decades making every political party responsible. No one leader, or political party can be blamed for the increase in electricity costs in this province.
There is a choice Ontarions must make. Do we choose to pay for electricity system upgrades ourselves through taxes and sky rocketing hydro bills or do we allow the private sector to share in the costs for the system upgrades? The reality is that the private sector must pay to connect to the Ontario grid when participating in power generation to supply electricity to the Province. Why continue to burden Ontario tax payers with things like generator plant costs, grid system upgrade costs, debt retirement for incredibly over budget nuclear experiments and line loss on their energy bills. This will continue as long as we allow our political leaders to turn back to the old way of doing things and ignore the renewable energy wave revolutionizing economies around the world, creating energy autonomy, more efficient energy distribution, independence from foreign sources of fuel, job creation, and a cleaner, healthier environment.
Renewable energy is a solution for all generations.

Renewable forms of power generation, such as solar energy, are an important part of the solution. Solar energy is the only form of power generation on the planet that is decreasing in cost. Every other form of power generation is increasing in cost, due to fuel price increases for oil, uranium, or natural gas. The trend of these fuel sources is clear, the economic, health and environmental costs are increasing. The costs will continue to increase in the next 10 or 20 years. The trend for solar energy is clear. It is decreasing and will continue to decrease over the next 10 or 20 years.
Our province has gained international recognition and attracted billions of dollars of investment because of the current Feed In Tariff program(FIT) for renewable energies.
The renewable energy producer is offered a 20 year contract at a fixed rate. This in turn provides a return on the investment, while providing clean renewable energy to the grid at peak demand times of use. It is at these times that our electricity is most costly because we must import from adjacent Provinces or the United States. Our cost to import electricity can be greater than 50¢/kWh, (Source: Independent Electricity System Operators for Ontario). When the 20 year Feed In Tarrif contract is fulfilled for a Solar array, the renewable energy generator is paid in full and Ontario will have a continuing source of renewable electricity supply for at least another generation, at potentially NO COST. This is because the generators are paid and the renewable energy will continue to produce electricity for another 15 or more years. We then have the opportunity to offer to purchase the electricity at a competitive price from all renewable energy suppliers.
The renewable energy sector in Ontario was a boutique industry five years ago. There were a handful of renewable energy companies and little to no manufacturing. There were less than 500 jobs in the industry then. The new program we have is necessary to stimulate the investment and create the manufacturing base for a new industry in Ontario. The renewable energy industry now has thousands of jobs and dozens of manufacturing facilities that did not existed five years ago. This influx of new technology and job creation is a welcome change from the job losses we are suffering in the auto industry. Collectively this represents 1000s of lost jobs. If the FIT program is terminated we will see thousands of additional jobs lost. Ontario cannot suffer more job loss and such a prospect is completely avoidable, if the program continues. This new industry can reverse job loss and replace those jobs lost to the displacement of the auto industry. We can avoid another AVRO Arrow scenario.
I am a proud Ontarion, and I want the best for our province. I want a healthy, environmentally sustainable, and economically stable province that is an example for the rest of the world. Renewable energy will help deliver these attributes.

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