Green Energy and Green Economy Act, 2009: A "Fit"-Ing Policy for North America?

Article excerpt

I.   INTRODUCTION

II.  ONTARIO'S PLAN FOR CESSATION OF COAL-FIRED
     GENERATION
     A. Ontario Regulation 496/07.
     B. Implications of Ontario's Coal Phase-Out

III. FEED-IN TARIFFS
     A. Feed-In Tariff Definition
     B. Feed-in Tariff Policy
     C. Feed-in Tariff History
     D. Success In Germany

IV. GREEN ENERGY AND GREEN ECONOMY ACT
     A. European-Style Feed-In Tariff.
     B. Other Highlights of the Green Energy and Green
        Economy Act
     C. Impact on Ontario

V. ONTARIO'S IMPACT ON THE UNITED STATES
     A. Current U.S. Policies and Reluctance
     B. A Possible Emergence of Change

I. INTRODUCTION

On April 29, 1998, Canada became one of the first countries in the world to ratify the Kyoto Protocol, (1) an international agreement aimed at curbing the effects of climate change and global warming. (2) In adopting the Kyoto Protocol, Canada pledged to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 6% (3) within the five-year period spanning from 2008 to 2012. (4) Following Canada's national commitment to preserving the environment, individual provinces began setting long-term goals aimed at reducing individual emissions and helping Canada to meet the Kyoto obligations. (5)

For example, Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty has made global climate change and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in Ontario a primary focus of many of his initiatives. (6) This Comment will discuss the major changes and policy implementations made in Ontario, which have put the province "on the edge of creating one of the greenest and cleanest electricity profiles anywhere in the world." (7) Beginning with the commitment to cease coal-fired power production by 2014--embodied in Ontario Regulation 496/07 (8) and the Green Energy and Green Economy Act (9)--Ontario has taken numerous policy and legislative steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The "most ambitious and far[-]reaching" step in this process has been the passage of the Green Energy and Green Economy Act of 2009. (10) This Act breaks new ground in North America by establishing a European-style feed-in tariff program and making a commitment to advance renewable energy generation and climate control efforts. (11) This Comment will break down the various provisions of the Green Energy and Green Economy Act of 2009 and address the impact these provisions will make on renewable energy generation in Ontario. Additionally, this Comment will briefly discuss U.S. reluctance to implement feed-in tariff legislation and how policy implementations like Ontario's may affect the U.S. energy market.

II. ONTARIO'S PLAN FOR CESSATION OF COAL-FIRED GENERATION

Ontario's efforts to become a leader in the fight against global climate change and greenhouse gas production began in 2003, when newly elected Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty pledged to phase out coal-fired power generation by 2007. (12) At the time, Ontario's five coal-fired power plants produced as much air pollution as 6.2 million cars and were major contributors to Ontario's $10 billion annual air-pollution-related expenses. (13) In the following years, plans were implemented to replace coal-fired generation facilities with cleaner sources within the earliest practical timeframe. (14) Despite numerous delays, (15) Ontario took a promising step toward eliminating coal-fired electricity generation in July 2007.

A. Ontario Regulation 496/07

On July 12, 2007, Ontario's Ministry of the Environment (the "Ontario MOE" or the "MOE") proposed a regulation developed to reduce green house gas emissions. (16) The regulation officially called for the cessation of the use of coal for power generation at certain power stations throughout Ontario, with all coal use to be phased out by December 31, 2014. (17) Specifically, the regulation affected the four remaining coal-generating plants in Ontario: the Atikokan, Lambton,

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