Federal Budget Fails to Extend Support for New Wind Energy Development

The Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA) today expressed its serious disappointment with the federal government’s failure to expand and extend its very successful ecoENERGY for Renewable Power Program in the 2010 federal budget.

Despite its expressed desire to harmonize climate change and clean energy policies with the United States, the federal government is now clearly moving in the opposite direction with respect to efforts to attract wind energy investment and jobs.

“The failure to extend and expand the ecoENERGY program will slow wind energy development and reduce our ability to compete with the United States for investment and jobs at a critical time in our economic recovery,” said CanWEA President, Robert Hornung. “While we remain committed to working with the federal government to find ways to attract new investment in the world’s most rapidly growing source of electricity, we are shocked and disappointed that it has chosen not to extend a cost-effective program that facilitated record levels of investment and job creation in Canada’s wind energy sector in the midst of the recession of 2009.”

While the U.S. federal government‘s key incentive program will provide support for new wind energy projects constructed through to the end of 2012, Canada’s ecoENERGY program has now allocated all of its funding and is supporting no wind energy projects built after March 2011 – almost two years before U.S. support is scheduled to end. The fact that federal funds are no longer available to support new wind energy projects in Canada means wind energy investors will increasingly shift new investments and job creation out of Canada to the greater policy certainty and more attractive investment climate found in the United States.

“Federal government incentives have played a critical role in wind energy development in Canada by supporting and complementing provincial government initiatives in this area. The success of this partnership is clear – Canada’s installed wind energy capacity has increased 10-fold in six years,” said Hornung. “While the federal government continues to identify clean energy and job creation as a priority, the actions taken in the 2010 federal budget make it clear that it has decided to download responsibility for attracting wind energy investment and jobs to provincial governments.”

The ecoENERGY for Renewable Power Program was created in January 2007 and has now allocated all of its funding and met its target to support the deployment of more than 4,000 MW of new renewable energy projects in Canada. A recent study by GE Energy Financial Services concluded that the government revenues generated by the economic activity stimulated and leveraged through the program represented a 5.3 percent internal rate of return on this investment by the federal government.

Between now and 2020, it is projected that $1 trillion will be invested in wind energy projects globally, creating more than 1.75 million jobs. If Canada wishes to capture a growing portion of this rapidly expanding global economic opportunity, and is seeking to maximize the economic and environmental benefits of wind energy development, the federal government will have to recommit to supporting wind energy development until a carbon market provides value for wind energy’s environmental benefits.

The Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA) is a non-profit industry association representing more than 460 members of the wind energy industry, including wind turbine manufacturers, component suppliers, wind energy project developers and a broad range of service providers to the industry. CanWEA’s mission is to support the responsible and sustainable development of wind energy in Canada.

Source; canwea, March 4, 2010