Ontario voters have re-elected Premier Dalton McGuinty in the Oct. 6 election, meaning that incentives for wind energy, including the Green Energy Act (GEA) and its feed-in tariff, are safe from the chopping block. Despite this victory for the wind industry, the incumbent Liberal Party still faces opposition to these issues, having lost valuable seats in the election.
Wind energy had become a bitter wedge issue for the challenging Progressive Conservative (PC) Party, led by Tim Hudak, throughout the campaign. Characterizing the GEA as fiscally wasteful and imprudent, Hudak vowed to undo many of the GEA's core tenets, promising to end Ontario's green energy initiatives, abolish the Ontario Power Authority and terminate the province's controversial C$7 billion agreement with Samsung C&T, which includes the development of 2,500 MW of wind and solar energy projects in the province – the largest single investment commitment under the GEA.
McGuinty's victory ensures that these efforts will not come to fruition, thus sending a signal to developers and investors that Ontario remains a vibrant wind energy market.
McGuinty's Liberal Party became the first party in more than 25 years to win a third consecutive term in Ontario, although this time, it fell one short of the 54 seats needed to form a majority in the 107-seat legislature The Liberals won 53 districts, compared with 37 seats for the PC Party and 17 seats for Andrea Horwath's New Democratic Party of Ontario (NDP), according to unofficial results from Elections Ontario. The last time Ontario was led by a minority government was in 1985.
With a relatively strong minority, the McGuinty government should be able to govern as if it had a majority, Justin Rangooni, Ontario policy manager at the Canadian Wind Energy Association, explains, adding that McGuinty would need at least one vote from another party to pass legislation.
That vote could come from the NDP, which generally supports renewable energy development.
‘It's a strong minority – one [vote] short of majority,’ he explains, adding that McGuinty and the Liberals will have to be cognizant of what the NDP is thinking on major pieces of legislation.
The NDP campaigned to keep the feed-in-tariff program for projects smaller than 30 MW. However, larger projects, they argued, should maintain a focus on community and regional interests and be subject to the discretion of a central agency.
‘You may see more consultations between the two on green energy policies,’ Rangooni predicts. ‘But it's likely steady as she goes, as both parties are supportive of green energy.’