OPA delays release of 20-year plan

TORONTO, ONTARIO - It was supposed to be filed by today, but Ontario's power authority now says it won't be able to complete a revision of its 20-year electricity system plan until later this summer because of a "significant evolution" in government policy.

Energy and Infrastructure Minister George Smitherman directed the Ontario Power Authority on Sept. 17 to revise and submit its long-term plan to the energy regulator within six months. He wanted the agency to accommodate more aggressive deployment of renewable energy and to boost the province's conservation efforts.

But too much has happen over the past six months to make that deadline, the power authority argued in a letter sent recently to the Ontario Energy Board. The agency cited the introduction of the government's Green Energy Act, or Bill 150, as an example a "fast-evolving policy environment" that is adding complexity to the planning process.

"Bill 150 will, if passed by the legislature, bring about far-reaching changes in the energy sector and set a bold new direction for energy policy in the province," the agency said. "In order for the OPA's planning work to be relevant and useful, it must incorporate into its thinking the new policy direction that is embodied in Bill 150."

The agency said it now expects to complete its revised long-term plan by this summer, assuming that by then the proposed energy legislation has been passed.

It was last August when Ontario's energy board launched a hearing into the original plan, called the Integrated Power System Plan, but the process was suspended after Smitherman issued his call for revision a month later.

At the time, the minister said Ontario had barely scratched the surface on renewable energy development and needs to go much further with its long-term plan.


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