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Opinion: Ontario is doing something right when it comes to renewable energy

Press Coverage
December 31, 2023
Globe and Mail

Renewable energy is undergoing a kind of rejuvenation in Ontario, with the provincial government making two significant moves in a six-week period to restart this key spark plug in its economic engine. 

These are moves geared to thriving – not just surviving – in the clean-energy future. We’re in an era now where doing right by the environment and seizing a business opportunity look like the same thing. And the Ford government’s proposal last month to allow corporations to purchase renewable energy, followed by the Independent Electricity System Operator’s announcement this month to acquire 5,000 megawatts of clean energy, will allow them to embrace both sides of this coin. 

And why not, when that coin will reward landowners, municipalities and a myriad of workers about to find jobs building and operating these clean-energy projects, not to mention the investment and jobs created by bringing in new companies attracted by the renewable energy? Climate-change consequences dominate the daily headlines and a growing chorus of companies make their interest in clean energy plain, so the Ontario government’s revived interest in renewable energy is entirely logical. 

The proposal to allow companies to purchase clean energy is an opening move in the world of corporate renewable energy procurement, but business response will give them an easy win. There is definitely appetite for this. The comment period on the proposal, which would require a legislative amendment, closed Dec. 17 and is sure to reveal strong support from energy developers and buyers alike. 

The proving ground is Alberta, where corporate purchases of renewable energy have supported investment of $5.5-billion since 2019. Alberta’s open market once made it easy for buyers and developers of solar and wind to work out their own clean-energy deals. In addition to the billions in investment, about 5,900 jobs were created along the way. 

Added to that, municipal tax revenues have tripled to $28-million in the past few years, according to our recent analysis. For some municipalities, the renewable energy tax revenues make up 10 per cent, 30 per cent and even up to 50 per cent of their total operating revenues. Our forecast shows they could collect an additional $170-million to $250-million in the next few years. 

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