The development, consultation, and introduction processes associated with Bill 150, the Green Energy and Green Economy Act [the Act] is unprecedented in Ontario’s history. In the spring of 2008, the steering committee of the “Green Energy Act Alliance” invited individuals and organizations to participate in their campaign to bring a green energy act to Ontario. The Alliance was (and to our knowledge remains) a coalition of organizations including the Ontario Sustainable Energy Association, Ivey Foundation, Pembina Institute, Community Power Fund, Environmental Defence, Ontario Federation of Agriculture, David Suzuki Foundation, and the First Nations Energy Alliance. These organizations represent a mix of public and corporate interests. To our knowledge, none of the Alliance’s members represent government.
By fall of 2008, the Alliance was hosting “visioning” sessions to develop the act. Within a few months, their recommendations were submitted to the Ontario government for consideration. Less than one month after they were submitted, Premier Dalton McGuinty announced that his government would introduce a green energy act. Draft legislation appeared and Bill 150 passed First Reading in the Legislature two weeks later. The public consultation process for the proposed legislation has been as swift and as limited as its development process. The text of the bill at First Reading was posted to the Environmental Registry for the minimum period of time required by law. The bill passed Second Reading before it was referred to committee for review, and many members of the public (including Lake Ontario Waterkeeper) have been denied an opportunity to appear before that committee.
Public polling data, media coverage, and selective representations may make it appear to the Committee as though public support for the bill is strong and broad. Our commentary below is offered as a caution to the Committee, however. This bill is ambitious. It will result in massive changes to Ontario’s project licencing processes, energy plans, economy, and approach to environmental protection. These changes are too signiﬁcant and too important to be adjudicated by the barometer of lop-sided public opinion reports.
SUMMARY OF RECOMMENDATIONS
In summary, Lake Ontario Waterkeeper submits the following speciﬁc recommendations to the Committee, to be considered in the context of our comments expressed above:
The name of the Act should be changed to “The Renewable Energy Technologies Support Act”.
Nuclear energy generation should be explicitly excluded from the deﬁnition of “renewable energy source” and the application of the Act.
Sections 3 and 4 of the proposed Act and Section 3 of Schedule K of the Bill should be removed to preserve local control over land use planning and environmental quality.
Section 10 should be removed from the bill.
Sections 11(2) and 11(3) should be amended such that documents are subject to the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.
The implications of the leave-to-appeal test in Schedule G are unclear and must be clariﬁed.
Read our entire comments to the Standing Committee on General Government here