June 20, 2018 6:07 pm
Updated: June 21, 2018 11:57 am

Solar energy investors expected to snub Ontario, look to Alberta in wake of Ford decisions

Ontario Premier-designate Doug Ford says they'll fulfill commitments on GreenON rebates until the end of October.

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Solar industry participants say they expect more investment to flow to Alberta and the United States in the wake of premier-designate Doug Ford’s vow to axe Ontario’s cap-and-trade system and the Green Ontario Fund consumer rebate program it fuels.

Exhibitors at the Solar Canada conference in Calgary — which is being held outside of Ontario for the first time in its 20-plus-year history — say the decision means they expect to do less solar energy-related business in Ontario.

READ MORE: Solar conference moves to Calgary with hot emerging market in Western Canada

Listen below: The Morning News’ Gord Gillies talks about a solar power conference in Calgary.

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Toronto-based SolarWall, which makes solar heating systems for buildings, was poised for “explosive growth” in Ontario but will now concentrate on finding contracts in the United States or Alberta, said Todd Marron, North American sales manager.

“All of that money in Ontario is going to Alberta right now. Or back to the safe haven of California,” he said in an interview at his company’s exhibition area booth.

“There was a ton of investment coming into Ontario.”

The Ontario market for his company’s solar array mounting systems will slow down considerably because of the Ford government’s moves, said Peter Aulich, CEO of Toronto-based KB Racking.

“We have some hopes for the Alberta market right now but I see for the next year or two the Ontario market will be fairly slow in terms of new jobs,” he said.

“I’m hopeful we can keep our staff just from the other projects we get from Alberta or the U.S.”

READ MORE: Green programs tied to Ontario’s cap and trade in limbo as Ford vows to scrap carbon pricing

Watch below: In June 2018, Doug Ford said his first act as Ontario premier will be to scrap the province’s cap-and-trade system and challenge federal rules on carbon pricing.

He said many of KB Racking’s products are made with aluminum and steel, pointing out that the U.S. government’s tariffs on those metals have increased prices for his customers in both the U.S. and Canada.

Exhibitor Randy Fillmore, national sales manager for Ontario-based Fusetek, which imports and sells electric fuses, said he’s willing to give the Ford government a chance to prove that cancelling the previous government’s policies will create a more business-friendly environment that will allow everyone to prosper.

Alberta is preparing new rules for an upcoming renewable energy procurement process that will encourage solar electricity proposals after a previous round selected only wind power projects, Alberta Infrastructure Minister Sandra Jansen said during a speech at the conference.

She said the formal procurement process will launch in August and wrap up before the end of the year.

“Show us what you can do. Make us an offer we can’t refuse,” she said to conference delegates.

Watch below: On June 8, 2018, Tom Vernon filed this report about how more and more Albertans are turning to solar systems to power their homes and businesses.

The industry in Ontario is strong enough and the cost of solar power has declined to the point that it will be able to survive without government aid, said Thomas Timmins, chairman of the conference host Canadian Solar Industries Association.

© 2018 The Canadian Press

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