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Stouffville and Renewable Energy Project Support

Stouffville and Renewable Energy Project Support

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Published by: Arnold Neufeldt-Fast on Oct 27, 2012
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12/04/2012

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Whitchurch-Stouffville and Municipal Support for Renewable Energy Projects
Regarding Staff Report:
 
Whitchurch-Stouffville Town Council Meeting, Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012To
From:
Arnold Neufeldt-Fast, Stouffville (resident)
Date:
Oct. 27, 2012Dear Mayor and Council (cc: Mr. Pourvahidi, Director of Finance/Treasurer):This letter is in regard to the addendum reportor Town Council's meeting on Tuesday, October 30, regarding municipal support for renewable energy projects.The staff report rightly outlines some of the frustrations and concerns at the municipal levelrelated to the required"Municipal Council Support Resolutions"required by the Ontario Power Authority Feed-in-Tariff (FIT) 2.0 program (by which projects can receive 2 points in a 10 pointsystem). As outlined in the Staff Report, there has been limited guidance and direction from theMinistry of Energy and the Ministry of Municipal Affairs in these regards (a good review articlehere).Sec. 3 of the Town of W-S report ("Analysis and Options") notes that "Town Staff are not aware of any communication/consultation ... through other municipal associations," and their analysisleads them to see a contradiction with the Green Energy Act.However, several municipalities in the past three months have established best-practices(see City of Markham, City of Mississauga, Town of Caledon,and City of London) which not only fill that information gap, but also establish precedents for the way forward, and address the"contradictions" which concern our Town Staff.I recommend that the reports by the cities and towns above be reviewed before the councilmeeting on Tuesday.What we know:1)
Recommendation 2:
The wording ("support, in principle") in the the Town of Whitchurch-Stouffville' Staff Report recommendation will not meet the new FIT 2.0 Program requirements
 
to enable the Region's project to qualify for priority points. There is a specifically prescribed(final) form that the resolution must have, which requires the wording: "supports withoutreservation." This was tested and confirmed by the City of Mississauga this summer (they were required to revise their Council's original wording). That experience informed MarkhamCouncil's discussion on Oct. 3 (see Markham Report). Thus, the wording of recommendation 2 in the W-S Staff report will need to be changed if it is to have any impact on the project's pointaccumulation.
2) Recommendation 3
is that Council "not provide support for this kind of projects [sic] to belocated on private properties ... ." This recommendation is unduly negative and will hinder thesuccessful qualification of any future applicants in Whitchurch-Stouffville (e.g., for rooftop solarprojects) for priority points.The larger issue is that the Town's Strategic Plan goes no further than "Balanced growth,environmental protection ... ." That is, planning is not pushed toward energy and climatepriority objectives.* Markham,for example, has its Greenprint, Community Sustainability Plan and an Energy and Climate Priority Objective (netzero energy emissions by 2050, which requires renewable energygeneration). See also Richmond Hill.* Mississauga's report concludes with a recommendation for a process that enables applicants to qualify for priority for their rooftop projects.In order to meet their larger goals, London, Mississauga and now Markham have developedprocesses to provide municipal support for those local FIT project applications to succeed. Forexample, Markham, Mississauga, and London have "automatic support criteria" for solar roof-top projects (less than 500 kW, no tree removal, etc).London is receiving praise for a process that uses three categories:1. rooftop solar anywhere; 2. ground-mounted solar; 3. wind, bio-gas etc. The criteria allow the city to issue "supportwithout reservation" for category 1 applications, and criteria for assessing the larger projects.The City of Cambridge has a reasonable $50 fee for the solar rooftop project support, and theCity of Markham has a $2000 fee for support for the larger projects.These processes set bench-marks that should inform and nuance Whitchurch-Stouffville
’s
finalresolution. The current recommendations 2 and 3 should be significantly amended, in myopinion, if local renewable energy generation is a priority for council. The staff's current reporthelpfully recognizes some important municipal concerns with the FIT program requirements,but the recommendations are unduly cautious /conservative, are not informed by the mostrecent interpretations /best practices of neighbouring communities, and further, would serve

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