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Hill Times: Trenchant Insight On Canada's Need To Diversify Energy

Mar. 29, 2021 8:08 PM ET
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  • Diversified energy production is in everyone's best interest.
  • Ontario's Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) has been squashing the development of solar projects before they can mature.
  • If Ontario continues to ignore the potential for solar energy, it will be bad for both the environment and the economy.

Canada's The Hill Times published a trenchant, insightful piece on Canada's energy sector today. Written by yours truly, "Ontario’s electricity operator must make energy diversification more than a pipe dream" outlines the need to add new energy sources like solar to enhance the country's already robust energy sector. An excerpt below: 

Renewable energy is growing at a record pace, on track to become perhaps the largest power source by 2025. While it is important for Canada to provide power from nuclear plants and natural gas – because, again, if the True North doesn’t, less savory international actors will – it is likewise important for Canada to develop the energy sources of the future.

The lynchpin for this appears to be IESO board chair Joe Oliver, who wrote an article for the Financial Post earlier this month boasting about Ontario’s richly diversified energy sector, yet has been conducting his business to undermine that diversification.

Despite its mandate of financial oversight over Ontario’s energy sector, IESO has taken a "policing" approach to compliance and enforcement: modifying their approach to make sure traditional energy is favored over renewable. This has chilled overall investment across the province as IESO has run rampant over investment in Ontario energy and eroded investor confidence.

The effects have been severe. In 2018, the IESO killed development contracts for almost 760 new wind and solar projects across the province. The next year, IESO cancelled 80 more renewable projects already under construction and at the verge of operation. This cost the taxpayers more than $230 million in damages and legal fees and who knows how many millions of irreparable environmental harm.

Canada is the second-largest country in the world, and it's under much better management than the largest. It's been bad for everyone in the short term that the Biden Administration has blocked off the Keystone Pipeline, and it's bad for the long term for Ontario to block off new solar projects. As has always been the case, the best energy policy is "all of the above." Here's hoping Ontario sees the error of its ways sooner rather than later! 

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