Do Ontario’s Updated Wind Power Plans Come Up Short?


After seeking public input over the past several months, the Ontario Ministry of Energy has released the province's updated Long-Term Energy Plan (LTEP). The plan strongly emphasizes energy conservation over new generation procurement, but wind power still figures to play a role in Ontario's future – albeit a somewhat smaller one than the industry had hoped.

According to the LTEP, electricity demand in Ontario has decreased, and the province already has an abundance of energy resources. Therefore, Ontario is adopting a ‘conservation first’ policy, which encourages agencies and utilities to utilize energy conservation measures, such as demand response programs, to offset most of the growth in electricity demand for the next 20 years. The LTEP says this policy will help reduce costs and the need for new supply.

Ontario still plans to add more renewables to its grid, but at a slower pace than previously outlined in the 2010 LTEP. The province is extending its 10.7 GW target for wind, solar and bioenergy for three more years, with the power now expected to be on the grid by 2021. The LTEP says Ontario currently has more than 18.5 GW of renewable energy in service or announced, including over 2.3 GW of wind power online. By 2025, renewable resources are expected to account for 46% of the province's installed generating capacity.

However, the LTEP reveals specific procurement goals only through 2015.

Over the next two years, Ontario will request up to 600 MW of new wind power, in addition to 280 MW of solar, 100 MW of bioenergy and 95 MW of hydro. The province will also review and consider increasing its procurement goals when issuing an annual Ontario Energy Report.

The 600 MW by 2015 target – comprising 300 MW blocks of wind each year – is less than what the Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA) had called for. In September, the group submitted its LTEP recommendations to the Environment Ministry, suggesting the province procure 2 GW of new wind power by 2018. This included a 450 MW goal for both 2014 and 2015.

Nonetheless, CanWEA has welcomed the province's plans and says the government "indicated that wind energy will make an important contribution to Ontario's limited, short-term needs for new electricity supply."

"We agree with the government of Ontario that new wind energy is a good choice when new electricity supply is required, and we look forward to working with the government to finalize the details of the initial procurement in the first quarter of 2014," comments Robert Hornung, CanWEA's president, in a statement.

He also notes that the annual Ontario Energy Report reviews could open the door for even more wind development, and CanWEA has reiterated that the province should set a long-term goal to meet at least 15% of Ontario's electricity demand with wind by 2031. According to the LTEP, wind power is forecast to make up 3% of energy production this year and 11% by 2025.

"Ontario must continue to pursue options that provide reliable electricity, stabilize electricity prices, promote community economic development and protect the environment," Hornung says. "Wind energy has proven to be an increasingly favorable option for addressing these important public needs."

The LTEP also notes that the Energy Ministry is working with the Ontario Power Authority to devise Ontario's new competitive procurement process for future large-scale renewable energy projects (above 500 kW). In May, the ministry announced plans to replace the province's feed-in tariff (FIT) program for such projects with the new process. The LTEP says the procurement model is slated to launch early next year.

In May, Ontario also committed to making 900 MW of new capacity available between this year and 2018 for the remaining FIT programs. Beginning in 2014, the province will have annual procurement targets of 150 MW for the Small FIT and 50 MW for the microFIT.

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