More than 60 projects in Grey-Bruce have been affected by the Ontario government’s plan to cancel green energy projects.
The projects, the vast majority of them non-rooftop solar projects, are among the more than 750 projects provincewide that Doug Ford’s new Progressive Conservative government announced on Friday that it would be cancelling contracts for.
According to the government, they are large renewable projects that have not yet achieved their key development milestones and feed-in tariff projects that have not received notice to proceed.
There are a total of 62 projects from Grey-Bruce on the government’s list, with 60 of those non-rooftop solar projects.
The remaining two projects that have been cancelled are water power projects at area dams – the Greenbug Cargill Dam Limited Partnership in Brockton and the Greenbug Dobson Dam Limited Partnership in Chatsworth.
Greenbug Energy Inc. Chief Executive Officer Tony Bouk said Monday that while both dam projects hadn’t yet entered the construction phase, a lot of work had already been completed on both of them.
“They have been underway for years,” said Bouk. “Normally for a water power project they allow eight years to get it in, and that is mainly because the approvals take so long.”
Bouk said they deal with almost every government department, with steps required including a class environmental assessment, requirements of the Lakes and Rivers Improvement Act, and structural approvals.
“They are both almost done in terms of that,” said Bouk. “There is a tonne of cost and a tonne of time that goes in before the shovel goes in the ground, and they were almost done from that perspective.”
Bouk said he was very disappointed with the announcement, which affected four projects of the Delhi, Ont.-based company.
“If the government wants to cancel contracts that is fine, and I hope they abide by the terms of that contract and pay the appropriate costs as outlined in the contract,” said Bouk. “What is scaring us is this talk about passing legislation that says they don’t have to follow contract law.”
Ontario’s Minister of Energy, Northern Development and Mines Greg Rickford has said the government intends to introduce a legislative amendment that, if passed, will protect hydro customers from any costs incurred from the cancellations.
Bouk said such legislation would set a terrible precedent for anyone who has to deal with the government.
Bouk said submitting the feed-in tariff application is an early part of the whole process, so contracts are already in place. Though Bouk said it was too soon to say what he would be doing, he expects many green energy companies will be seeking legal advice.
“I imagine a whole lot of people would be (seeking legal advice),” said Bouk. “If that comes to that we are living in a banana republic.”
Of the 60 non-rooftop solar projects affected in Grey-Bruce, 26 are in South Bruce Peninsula, while West Grey is next with 10. There are seven projects in both Northern Bruce Peninsula and Georgian Bluffs that have been cancelled. The remaining projects are in Arran-Elderslie (3), South Bruce (2), Saugeen First Nation (2), and Owen Sound, Brockton and Grey Highlands with one each.
Many of the non-rooftop solar projects were being proposed by numbered companies, though 30 of the projects were being done by Northern Development Solar 2016 Inc.
Rickford, has said that by cancelling the projects, Ontario ratepayers will realize $790 million in savings.
“We clearly promised we would cancel these unnecessary and wasteful energy projects as part of our plan to cut hydro rates by 12 per cent for families, farmers and small businesses,” Rickford said in a news release. “In the past few weeks, we have taken significant steps toward keeping that promise.”