Ontario to scale back renewable energy purchases

Toronto | Reuters –– Ontario will scale back its purchase of renewable power in a move expected to result in savings of up to $3.8 billion from a 2013 forecast, the provincial government said on Tuesday.

It’s not clear consumers will benefit directly, though the province’s Energy Minister Glenn Thibeault told a news conference a residential household can expect to save $2.45 a month on electricity bills.

The government said it will immediately suspend the second round of its Large Renewable Procurement process and the Energy-from-Waste Standard Offer Program, halting procurement of over 1,000 megawatts of solar, wind, hydroelectric, bioenergy and energy from waste projects.

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Ontario’s Liberal government has pledged to lower electricity costs for residents as it sought to provide balm for an issue that has become an irritant with voters.

Rising energy bills have hurt the popularity of the Liberals, who lost a byelection earlier this month to the Conservatives for a long-held Toronto seat.

Thibeault said the Sept. 1 planning outlook of the province’s Independent Electricity System Operator determined Ontario already has an ample supply of electricity for the next decade.

“Given this strong energy position, it only makes sense that… we take a careful look at procurements and make common-sense adjustments,” Thibeault said.

To keep a lid on electricity rates, the province has also set up a policy of annual price reviews on rates paid to farmers and others participating in the provincial Feed-in Tariff (FIT) program.

For farmers and other rural residents, the province has also set up a Rural or Remote Electricity Rate Protection program, which — along with a general eight per cent rebate expected to take effect Jan. 1, 2017 on most electricity bills — is expected to give eligible rural customers monthly savings of about 20 per cent on electricity.

Reporting for Reuters by Jeffrey Hodgson and Ethan Lou. Includes files from AGCanada.com Network staff.

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