Local Power Utilities Say Green Energy Legislation a Positive Step Toward the 'Sustainable Communities of Tomorrow'



    TORONTO, Feb. 23 /CNW/ - The Electricity Distributors Association (EDA),
representing the over 80 local hydro utilities who provide safe and reliable
electricity delivery service to all Ontario residential and business
consumers, today applauded Premier McGuinty and Minister Smitherman for their
introduction of the Green Energy legislation.
    "Ontario's local electricity utilities are committed to building the
sustainable communities of tomorrow", said Charlie Macaluso, CEO of the EDA.
"Our members - provincially-regulated community-based power utilities - have
long sought greater freedom to meet the needs of their local communities and
consumers in tailored ways; today's legislation is a positive first step in
that direction."
    Building 'the sustainable communities of tomorrow' means providing
Ontarians with more conservation options and clean energy solutions, through
their trusted local utility.
    With its announcement today, the Province reinforced the primary
importance of local utilities' commercial role in assisting consumers to
understand and manage their energy consumption, a critical step for consumers
in controlling energy costs in future.
    Equally importantly, Minister Smitherman has responded to calls to loosen
certain legislative restrictions on local utilities' scope of business
activities. Specifically, the new legislation proposes that local utilities be
permitted to generate clean power, an EDA-supported move that could facilitate
progress toward the province's supply mix targets.
    "Taken together, the elements of the province's Green Energy legislation
represent an important potential step forward both for Ontario's electricity
system and local power utilities," said EDA Chair Bryan Boyce. "While there
are possible new risks for utilities that we must work with the government and
regulator to avoid or minimize, there are an equal set of opportunities
evident in today's legislation, and that's a positive first step."
    Given the enabling nature of the new legislation, the crucial second step
will be for the government to define specific additional policy details - via
regulation or Directive - in order to build with local utilities the
sustainable communities of tomorrow.
    "There are several key issues that local utilities look forward to
working productively with the government on to create positive benefits for
consumers," said John Loucks, EDA Vice-Chair. "We are confident that by
working together, utilities and the government can get the policy
implementation details right. We look forward to continuing to work closely
with Minister Smitherman, the agencies and regulator to do just that, using
the new tools the Green Energy legislation has the potential to provide."

    
    Backgrounder
    ------------

    Ontario's Power Utilities Seek to 'Build the Sustainable Communities of
    Tomorrow'
    

    Over 18 months ago, Ontario's local community-based power utilities,
through their industry group the Electricity Distributors Association,
launched a strategic initiative to develop a "Vision" of the future role of
the local utility within Ontario's electricity system. Through this project,
which involved a global research study and significant consultation with
member utilities and stakeholders from all across the province, Ontario's
local power distributors have dedicated themselves to the task of 'building
the sustainable communities of tomorrow'.
    Building 'the sustainable communities of tomorrow' means providing
Ontarians with more conservation options and clean energy solutions, through
their trusted local utility.
    This robust 'Vision' of utilities' role stands in stark contrast to the
narrow and restrictive content of the provincial law introduced 11 years ago,
which limited Ontario's local utilities from engaging in any activity other
than power delivery.
    The McGuinty government began to loosen this restriction in their first
term, permitting local utilities to re-engage in electricity conservation
initiatives to help consumers better understand and manage their power usage.
    By 2005 the Province had named local utilities as lead in installing
'smart meters', devices with the capacity to help consumers better understand
and begin to manage energy consumption within their homes and businesses. To
date, local utilities have installed over half of the total 4.5 million meters
in the province, and are on-track to complete the task by the province's 2010
deadline.
    With its legislation unveiled today, the Province has reinforced the
primary importance of local utilities' commercial role in assisting consumers
to understand and manage their energy consumption, a critical step for
consumers in controlling energy costs in future.
    Equally importantly, Minister Smitherman has responded to calls to loosen
certain legislative restrictions on local utilities' scope of business
activities. Specifically, the new legislation proposes that local utilities be
permitted to generate clean power, an EDA-supported move that could facilitate
progress toward the province's supply mix targets.
    While in the Green Energy legislation introduced today there are possible
new risks that utilities must work with the government and regulator to avoid
or minimize going forward, there are an equal set of opportunities evident in
the bill, which represents a positive step.
    Given the enabling nature of the new legislation, the crucial second step
will be for the government to define specific additional policy details - via
regulation or Directive - in order to build in partnership with local
utilities the sustainable communities of tomorrow.





For further information:

For further information: Christine Hallas, Manager of Communications &
Media Relations, EDA, Tel: (905) 265-5322, Cell: (416) 624-0835, Email:
challas@eda-on.ca


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