A “new social contract” launches to fight climate change in Quebec

Montreal Climate-March_Mike-HudemaTwitter-660x400@2xAn article in the Montreal Gazette on November 12  describes the rapid rise of a new grassroots group in the province: in English, called “The Planet goes to Parliament”.  Their demonstrations have been covered by the CBC– including a march of 50,000 people in Montreal on November 10, calling for the newly-elected provincial government to make climate change action an urgent priority .  A report of an earlier  march in October is here   .

In addition to marches and demonstrations, over 175,000 Quebecers have signed the group’s Pact for Transition (English version here ), French version here ), which calls for “radical, co-ordinated and societal transformation” .  The Pact first calls for a solemn personal pledge to change behaviours “to wean ourselves off fossil fuels.” It also calls for the government to: enact a plan by 2020 for reaching Quebec’s climate targets; commit to reducing emissions by 50 per cent by 2030; develop an energy efficiency and electrification strategy; rule out any exploitation of fossil fuels in Quebec; and make climate change the first consideration of every policy.  Dominic Champagne, a theatre producer and anti-fracking campaigner, is being credited with launching the mass movement, and states: “This time it’s not just left-wing ecologists and artists. It’s way larger … This is really fulfilling an empty space on the political landscape.”

The Quebec government is now led by the right-wing Coalition Avenir Quebec (CAQ) party, which had the weakest  environmental platform in the election campaign; Québec Solidaire, a new left-leaning party, had the most well-developed and ambitious climate platform , and went from 0 to 10 seats in the new legislature. (See a WCR explainer here).   Since taking power in October,  the CAQ government announced the cancellation of the Apuiat wind farm , which was to be built in partnership with Innu communities.  As reported by the  Energy Mix ,the Chair and Vice-Chair of  Hydro-Québec resigned due to the cancellation.  Details about the Apuiat project are provided by CBC here (Oct. 20).

The Planet Goes to Parliament  has announced plans for at least two more climate protests, in Quebec City and in Montreal,  during  the COP24 meetings in Katowice Poland in December.  The group is thinking big, with a goal of 1 million signatories to their Pact – out of a population of 8 million in the province.

Ontario’s Fit 3.0 Program Lowers Domestic Content Requirements for Renewable Energy, Discourages Wind Projects

The final version 3.0 of Ontario’s Feed-in Tariff Rules, posted on October 9th, includes reductions to the minimum domestic content requirement levels (MDCR) in order to move towards compliance with the World Trade Organization ruling of May 2013. The levels of domestic content have been lowered from 50% to 28 – 19%, depending on the solar (PV) technology used. For on-shore wind projects, the MDCR has been lowered from 60% to 20%. Furthermore, minimum domestic content levels will no longer be required throughout the entire project, but only during the development and construction phases. According to the Minister’s letter of direction, further changes will follow.

An article in North American Wind Power discusses the new FIT program and concludes that wind power projects will suffer. He notes, “As long as the Small FIT cap remains at 500 kW, the FIT program is no longer accessible to wind developers, except for those using small-scale turbines”, and “The greater latitude given to municipalities in the location and siting of wind farms may make permitting more difficult for developers and preclude the siting of wind farms in municipalities that have a strong anti-wind bias.”


Ontario Power Authority FIT 3.0 documents are available at:http://fit.powerauthority.on.ca/newsroom/october-9-2013-FIT-3-final-documents, with an August 16, 2013 background document about Domestic Content Regulations at:http://fit.powerauthority.on.ca/newsroom/august-16-2013-program-update, and the Minister’s Letter of Direction at:http://powerauthority.on.ca/sites/default/files/page/DirectionAdministrativeMatters-renewables-Aug16-2013.pdf

“Political Football: Ontario Sacks Large-scale Wind” in North American Wind Power (October 2013) at: http://nawindpower.com/issues/NAW1310/FEAT_01_Political-Football-Ontario-Sacks-Large-Scale-Wind.html

Canadian Wind Energy Update

A special edition of British reNews was released on September 26, focussing on Canadian wind energy development. The report summarizes the policy environment for each province, with detailed tables showing the existing and planned wind energy installations for 2013 and 2014. Ontario remains the leader in wind energy in Canada. The president of the Canadian Wind Energy Association predicts “an average over the next three years of 1500MW of wind power installed per annum”, but with an uncertainty after 2016, given that Ontario, Quebec, B.C. and Alberta are reviewing and redrafting their energy policies. The “Canada Special Report 2013” by reNews is at: http://renews.biz/wp-content/assets/reNewsCanada2013.pdf 
Where are wind energy technicians being trained? In the Summer 2013 edition of Windsight, the Canadian Wind Energy Association magazine, there is a feature article about training at Fanshawe College in London, Ontario – see http://www.canwea.ca/media/windsight_e.php.CanWEA also maintains a list (last updated in 2012) of wind training courses at colleges and universities at: http://www.canwea.ca/pdf/Education-and-Training-Programs.pdf.

On September 19th, wind turbine manufacturer Siemens opened a 40,000-square-foot, $7 milliontraining centre for technicians in Orlando Florida. The facility is one of four in the world operated by Siemens (the others are in Brande, Denmark; Bremen, Germany; and Newcastle, U.K.), and is intended to serve North and South America, training more than 2,400 wind service technicians annually. See:  http://theenergycollective.com/timholt/277131/siemens-inaugurates-new-state-art-wind-service-training-center-us


U.S. Proposals to Encourage Large-scale Wind Power

The costs and benefits of developing a commercial-scale offshore wind industry in the United States are explored in a report released on February 28. Policy recommendations are: accelerate the existing “Smart from the Start” program, enact the proposed Incentivizing Offshore Wind Power Act; establish a carbon tax, and roll back fossil fuel subsidies. Making the Economic Case for Offshore Wind was commissioned by the Center for American Progress, the Clean Energy States Alliance, the Sierra Club, and the U.S. Offshore Wind Collaborative, and conducted by the Brattle Group, a consulting firm based in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Read it at:  http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/green/report/2013/02/28/54988/making-the-economic-case-for-offshore-wind/