Wednesday, February 24, 2010

EU Takes Aim at Canada Post, Ontario Green Energy Act

(Embassy – Lee Berthiaume)

Canada Post, provincial liquor boards across the country and Ontario’s new Green Energy Act are all being targeted by the European Union in its trade talks with Canada, confidential EU briefing notes show. While none are considered deal breakers, several touch on long-standing irritants between the two sides and go a long way to revealing just how far-reaching a deal negotiations are hoping for.

Last May, the Ontario government passed the Green Energy Act. The intent was to lay the foundation for a new renewable energy industry in the province. One of the key aspects was feed-in tariffs, in which the government pays individuals, communities and businesses that generate electricity from renewable sources like solar or wind. The idea is to offset the cost of implementing such projects.

However, in order to take advantage of the feed-in tariff program, or FIT program, a certain percentage of the project must include provincially-made goods and labour. […]

“The idea behind the domestic content regulations is to encourage investment, green manufacturing and construction and installation jobs in Ontario,” reads one of the EU documents. A second document (neither are dated) reads that the EU’s objective is “to convince the governments of Ontario and Canada to abandon the requirement to use domestically produced equipment to produce renewable electricity in order to benefit from high feed-in tariffs.” It goes on to state that the medium-term objective is to avoid the Ontario initiative becoming a precedent for other provinces. Read more here.