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Schreiner Joins Residents and Farmers in Launching Legal Action Against Ontario Government Over King Township Peaker Plant

NEWS
Green Party of Ontario (GPO) Leader Mike Schreiner joined King Township concerned citizens and Holland Marsh farmers in launching legal action against the Ontario Government to force it to stop ignoring local democracy and concerns related to a gas generation plant being developed in King Township.

The Government was served with a statement of claim this morning. The plaintiffs are seeking a Judicial Review claiming that the Government has ignored its own legislation, its own promises and its own procurement rules which has served to deny citizens and the municipality the right to have concerns properly aired and addressed.

The claim cites clear and numerous examples of abuse of process and power. Schreiner is making this a Green Action Priority* and engaging all parties and all concerned groups to require the Government to stop, to respect proper process and their own commitments including: full respect for municipal planning process; full engagement of the public; and, complete respect for all applicable legislation and processes.

QUOTES
“The Liberal government’s actions in circumventing the law to railroad this plant through are unprecedented, are unfounded in law and could have a devastating impact on municipal and environmental processes for communities across Ontario. We are fighting for what’s right for all Ontarians.”
— Mike Schreiner, Leader, GPO

“We are standing up for citizens across Ontario to ensure that the government follows its own laws and processes while engaging citizens and municipalities in smart planning.”
— Debbie Schaefer, Concerned Citizens of King Township

“Our family grows healthy local food for all Ontarians, we follow strict rules, and I can’t understand why the government would break its own rules to push through this proposed plant located on a floodplain in the Greenbelt on protected countryside.”
— Avia Eek, Holland Marsh farmer

QUICK FACTS
– The proposed plant is located on an active flood plain, in the Ansnorveldt wetlands, in legislatively-protected designated countryside of the Greenbelt.
– The closest elementary school is less than 400 metres from the proposed gas plant.
– King Township has publicly indicated on numerous occasions this site does NOT conform to municipal planning requirements.
– This plant will no longer serve local power needs as it cannot meet OPAs “islanding” requirement.
– *Green Action Priorities is a non-profit organization that is a plaintiff in the claim established by Schreiner to facilitate citizen participation in this legal action.

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Contact:
Jaymini Bhikha (416) 275-8573

Environmental Commissioner To Investigate MicroFIT

The movement to halt cuts to the MicroFIT solar energy program got a boost today from Ontario’s Environmental Commissioner, who is insisting that the Government disclose in full its financial justification for the move.

In a surprise move over the July long weekend, the Government cut the price paid for ground mounted solar projects from $0.80 per kilowatt hour to $0.58, a 27% reduction.

The Ontario Power Authority says that it will take comments on the proposed changes until August the 3rd, but Environmental Commissioner Gord Miller says “you can’t have effective consultations if all the facts are not being released.” Using the powers of investigation given to him by the Environmental Bill of Rights, the ECO requested on July 16th that the OPA fully disclose the financial assumptions and methodology it used to calculate the new lower price. “So far,” says Miller, “I have not received a response”.


Schreiner Joins Local Businesses to Demand McGuinty Government Honour Solar MicroFIT Promises

NEWS

Green Party of Ontario (GPO) Leader Mike Schreiner joined local solar businessman David Estill, President of Estill Energy, Jamie Pilkey, National Sales Director of Green and Clean Energy, and Ben Polley, GPO Guelph candidate of record and President of Evolve Builders Group Inc., at a news conference in Guelph to demand that the McGuinty government honour its promise to pay green energy entrepreneurs 80.2 ¢/kWh for solar projects under 10 kilowatts.

Schreiner criticized the McGuinty government for unexpectedly changing the rules on the fly. Estill and Pilkey described the financial difficulties the government’s action has had on solar energy dealers and installers who invested heavily in inventory and training to support orders that are now being cancelled. Polley described how the changes would negatively effect job creation and investment, especially in rural areas.

The Green Party is launching a province-wide campaign to call on Premier McGuinty to honour his word and stand behind the promised pricing for all current solar microFIT applications.

QUOTES

“Instead of fostering community economic development and green job creation, the government’s mismanagement is hurting this emerging industry. People’s livelihood and savings may be lost. Premier McGuinty should be ashamed for misleading citizens.”
– Mike Schreiner, Leader, GPO

“I lost $250,000 in sales after the proposed rate cut was unexpectedly announced. It’s tough taking this kind of hit.”
– David Estill, President of Estill Energy

“Business needs predictability to make good decisions. Changing the rules on the fly is causing people to lose confidence in the microFIT program and puts a chill on investment in the sector.”
– Jamie Pilkey, National Sales Director of Green and Clean Energy

“The McGuinty government doesn’t hesitate to create special deals for multinational corporations like Samsung, but they won’t honour promises for local, community-based green power. That is wrong.”
– Ben Polley, GPO Guelph candidate of record and President of Evolve Builders Group Inc.

QUICK FACTS

· The Ontario Power Authority (OPA) says it has received over 15,000 contract applications since the microFIT program was announced 9 months ago.
· The majority of applications have been for ground-mounted solar panels predominantly in rural areas. Ground mounted panels are the target of the government’s cuts.
· The OPA had only approved 3,000 of the contract applications when the cut was suddenly announced. This means close to 10,000 people could be affected by this cutback which will reduce the income on their investment by 27%.
· A 10 kilowatt solar project costs $70,000 or more to install.

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Contact:
Becky Smit or Elaine Sanders
647-830-6486 or 416-977-7476

MicroFIT: A Letter to Minister Duguid

Letter to Minister Duguid regarding the new deed-in tariff proposed for MicroFIT ground-mounted solar PV projectsFriday, 16 July, 2010

Hon. Brad Duguid, MPP
Minister
Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure
900 Bay Street, 4th Floor
Hearst Block
Toronto, Ontario
M7A 2E1

Dear Minister Duguid,

Subject: New Feed-In Tariff Proposed for MicroFIT Ground-Mounted Solar PV Projects

As leader of the Green Party of Ontario, I am writing to express our Party’s strong opposition to the proposed new feed in tariff for ground-mounted solar systems under the MicroFIT program.

Solar energy is an early-stage industry which is vital to Ontario’s future, both as a source of renewable energy and a source of green jobs. We therefore supported the original MicroFIT program which provided needed provincial support for this emerging industry, while enabling homeowners and especially farmers to invest and share in the proceeds of this sustainable energy source.

Over 15,000 homeowners, farmers and other Ontarians took the government’s commitment at face value and applied for MicroFIT contracts, with many investing tens of thousands of dollars with the expectation the government would be a partner with them. Likewise, solar equipment dealers and installers have invested millions of dollars in inventory and training to support the program.

Unfortunately, the way in which your government and the Ontario Power Authority have implemented this program will hurt the individual homeowners, farmers and businesses who have invested. Further, your actions threaten to set back community-based solar energy in Ontario by years.

The Ontario Power Authority committed to process MicroFIT contract applications in under 30 days, where in reality the process has taken 4 months or more and has created a backlog of over 10,000 outstanding projects. The individuals who invested were not at fault for this backlog.

On the Friday of the July long weekend, the Ontario Power Authority suddenly announced a 27% reduction in the price paid for ground-mounted solar projects, including for those individuals who had already applied but not yet been approved. This sudden price reduction affects the majority of outstanding projects and has caused the solar installation business in Ontario to contract overnight, with some suppliers reporting declines in business of up to 80%.

Your government has justified the rate reduction on the basis that ground mounted systems cost less to install and therefore earn an “exorbitant” rate of return. This is widely disputed by many installers and project owners and there was no meaningful industry input before this new policy was announced.

At the same time as the government is reneging on its commitment to community-based solar power producers covered under the MicroFIT program, you are apparently applying a different standard for its dealings with the corporate sector and standing by your secretly negotiated deals worth billions.

We understand that the prices offered for energy will have to be reviewed from time to time as economic and industry conditions change. In this case, the OPA had previously announced that the next price review would be in September 2011. Farmers and others investing in solar projects had no warning of this sudden reversal.

If the government finds it necessary to review pricing now, then at minimum the government should honour its word and stand behind its promised pricing for all current applications.

Any future changes to pricing should be based on meaningful input from industry representatives, project owners and the public.

Finally, I believe fundamentally that government programs in support of renewable energy must be conducted in a way which is honest, open and where communities and community members are treated with the same respect which the government has shown selectively to corporations.

Sincerely,

Mike Schreiner
Leader, Green Party of Ontario

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