TORONTO – As the latest climate change summit prepares to open in Mexico, Ontarians from all walks of life heard the successes of the Green Energy & Green Economy Act’s first year.
The Green Energy Act Alliance released a report that underlined how clean energy is rejuvenating the province’s economy and helping to close polluting coal plants. It was released at an event at one of Toronto’s greenest buildings, the Planet Traveler hostel, which uses solar panels assembled in Woodbridge.
“Ontario is a clean energy success story,” said Dr. Rick Smith, executive director of Environmental Defence. “We’re ahead of where many European leaders were at the same stage of their clean energy transformations.”
It’s one of the report’s key findings. Ontario – with North America’s best renewable energy program – has offered contracts for more wind and solar power than France in the first year of its program; and more solar than Spain in its first year. More than 22,000 people have applied for renewable energy installations.
“It’s clear Ontarians want to use more clean energy. The response to the Green Energy Act is overwhelming,” said Dr. Smith. “To be in the same league as France and Spain is beyond our wildest dreams.”
The fact isn’t the only impressive one in the report. In just a year, Ontario has the highest levels of community ownership of renewable power in North America – 150 megawatts more than Minnesota, the previous leader.
“From First Nations to community charities to faith institutions, Ontarians have clearly shown they embrace community ownership,” said Deb Doncaster, executive director of the Community Power Fund. “Instead of importing dirty coal, Ontario is spending on energy locally, and sharing its benefits.”
Indeed, the event showed the breadth of clean energy’s support across the province. Other speakers included the worker who assembled the solar panels; the United Steelworkers union; a First Nations chief; and a working farmer. Almost half the applications for small-scale renewable energy installations are in rural areas.
“Renewable energy isn’t left versus right, it’s about choosing the future over the past,” said Dr. Smith. “When you look at the map of the thousands of jobs created, or the economic renaissance throughout rural Ontario or on reserve, one thing is clear.”
“Ontario isn’t just shutting polluting coal plants. We’re transforming as a province and spreading the benefits that clean energy brings. As the world again gathers to find solutions to climate change, we invite them to look to Ontario – where solutions are in action.”
To access the Green Energy “Faces of Transformation” Report, please visit:  www.environmentaldefence.ca.  
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For more information, please contact:
Stephanie Kohls, Environmental Defence, 416-323-9521 ext. 232, 647-280-9521 (cell)