Since prorogation of the legislature on October 15, Ontario’s disgraced Energy Minister Bentley (who has promised to leave provincial politics) has been busy providing on the spot guidance to the OPA, most recently on December 11, 2012. On December 11, Bentley guided the OPA on how to administer details of renewable energy subsidies. Some of this guidance is race-based, with certain amounts of capacity for various kinds of subsidized contracts made available to First Nations and Metis groups. This most recent guidance is intended to bring order to the crowd of development applications grabbing for the subsidies.
It is apparent that Minister Bentley found the December 11 needed to fill gaps in his on the spot guidance to the OPA from November 23, 2012. In the November 23 guidance, he made various orders, including re-launching subsidy programs designed to financially assist community and First Nation groups in applying for FIT subsidies. (On top of the regular subsidized FIT rates, First Nation groups enjoy a special adder that bumps up the FIT price. For wind power projects, this extra grease adds 13% for the already fat price of 11.5 cents/kWh.)
FIT wind power projects are causing serious social problems in many relatively prosperous, peaceful industrial/agricultural/recreational rural communities in South Ontario. There is abundant evidence, that the FIT wind program is causing far more severe social problems within Ontario’s more remote and much less prosperous Aboriginal communities. A tiny sliver of this evidence is documented in this “Responsible Aboriginal Government vs. Renewable Energy” series.
Minister Bentley’s decision to re-launch extra layers of subsidies to the FIT program and to specifically direct those new subsidies at Aboriginal communities raises questions. Which developers will benefit most from these new subsidies? Does the Minister believe that these benefits will trickle down to Aboriginal citizens unrelated to FIT developers?
Without the legislature in session, there is no mechanism to pursue these questions if Minister Bentley does not volunteer answers.