Ontario Agriculture

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September 23, 2009 For Immediate Release

OFA opposes solar farm installations on farmland

GUELPH – With such a small amount of good, productive land available to produce food in Ontario, the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) is opposed to solar panel installations on Class 1, 2, 3, or 4 Farmland says Don McCabe, Vice-President of the OFA.

With 825 million square feet of corporate roof alone in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), he said that would be a much more appropriate place for solar panels. “We need the productive soils of Ontario for food and fiber production,” he says. “Farmers already have solar collectors at work on their farms with plant leaves soaking up the sun and growing – a natural process that enhances the productivity of the soil.”

“Solar panels installed to produce electricity do not sequester carbon like the plants in a farmers’ field. We need those plants to work effectively removing carbon from the atmosphere, reducing greenhouse gases, and still be filling the grocery stores with the lights on,” McCabe says.

As it is, McCabe says, “Ontario farmers have access to only 13 per cent of the private land in Ontario for production of food, fiber, and we don’t want to lose any of that to the installation of solar panels.”

Solar technology has its place. Currently, small scale solar is being actively used to pump water and other activities on Ontario farms. Solar technology can be properly placed on rooftops or less productive soils recognized by Class 5, 6, and 7 designations – these soils are less rewarding for agricultural production.

A balance of needs is what is being offered here by the OFA, McCabe says.

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I doubt this is a real big deal for many acres in Ontario. Shouldn't the OFA be supporting new opportunities for renewable energy for farmers...I don't like using good productive crop land for these things but if the price is right?

Joe
Investments in Ontario's electricity grid will support renewable energy

Minister of Energy and Infrastructure announces important new investments in electricity grid that will create jobs and facilitate green energy

Toronto - At the 25th Canadian Wind Energy Association conference earlier today, Minister of Energy and Infrastructure George Smitherman announced a key measure to support green energy in Ontario – important upgrades to Ontario's aging electricity grid. The announcement will allow renewable energy generation in parts of the province that were otherwise unsuitable because the energy could not reach key markets.

"By making this announcement, the government is laying the foundation for renewable energy in Ontario" said Deb Doncaster, Executive Director of the Community Power Fund. "Transmission and distribution systems are key to a distributed energy systems and allow community-owned and aboriginal projects to compete with large scale energy producers."

The province set in motion its plan by directing Hydro One, owner of a majority of transmission systems in the province and owned entirely by the province of Ontario, to proceed with 20 new transmission projects across the province. These transmission upgrades are designed to support areas with high green energy potential including regions in the north, east and southwest.

Upgrading the province’s transmission and distribution systems are key parts of the government’s strategy to create jobs and facilitate economic growth embedded in the Green Energy and Green Economy Act. The government predicts that these upgrades will create 20,000 jobs in the province over the next three years.

"We are glad to see the government is moving forward aggressively to establish the framework for Ontario's new energy economy," said Ken Neumann, United Steelworkers National Director, "Utilizing its commitment in the Green Energy Act to provide significant local procurement requirements, the government will create even more jobs putting people back to work manufacturing the steel for towers and other components for these plans."

The announcement includes upgrades to 20 core transmission lines that will enhance reliability and capacity for green energy across the province. In addition, the announcement includes the development of several enable transmission lines to services areas with high renewable energy potential.

"The government’s announcement today offers every one of us the opportunity to become energy entrepreneurs by ensuring that any clean energy we produce, whether that be wind power, solar energy or biogas, will be able to feed into the electricity grid for a fair and profitable price" said Kristopher Stevens, Executive Director of the Ontario Sustainable Energy Association. "Now municipalities, First Nations, farmers and energy co-operatives can become power proponents, reducing greenhouse gases and smog while creating potentially thousands of jobs in their communities."

About the Green Energy Act Alliance: The Alliance's vision is to make Ontario a global leader in green energy development through the use of renewable energy, distributed energy and conservation, creating thousands of jobs, economic prosperity, energy security, while ensuring climate protection. Founding groups include: the Ontario Sustainable Energy Association, Community Power Fund, the David Suzuki Foundation, Environmental Defence, the First Nations Energy Alliance, the Ivey Foundation, the Ontario Federation of Agriculture and the Pembina Institute. www.greenenergyact.ca
OFA is supportive of renewable energy. One concept that I am personally in favour of is using solar panels on the roofs of these large dairy and hog barns, biodigesters, wind turbines in some locations, and energy conservation (which is also part of the Green Energy Act).
From a news release Feb 24, 2009:
" When the Act is fully operational, Crews says it will “create new opportunities for our farmers to participate even more in Ontario’s green energy revolution. Through their (increased) involvement in energy production, Ontario farmers will create new manufacturing opportunities and fuel other economic initiatives,” she says. "OFA will work with the government to ensure necessary safeguards accompany green energy developments to preserve farmland and protect the interests of rural residents." "
Plus as you saw in Roadrunner's piece - OFA is part of the Green Energy Act Alliance.

Joe Dales said:
I doubt this is a real big deal for many acres in Ontario. Shouldn't the OFA be supporting new opportunities for renewable energy for farmers...I don't like using good productive crop land for these things but if the price is right?

Joe
http://www.ottawacitizen.com/technology/Ontario+requirement+added+O...

"Solar proponents like Hutcheson are also unhappy with a new rule that will forbid projects on class 1 and 2 agricultural land. Solaris’s Stardale Solar Park in East Hawkesbury, to be built on 100 hectares of prime agricultural land was approved under old rules and will therefore go ahead as planned, officials said."

Plus - they plan on a 'Buy Ontario' plan for this green energy. Is Buy Ontario the right way to go? Aren't we against the US doing it?
My thought is "No" since there is only one production line of solar panels in Ontario - and they are selling everything they make. So what good would it do other than slow down the building of solar panels on our rooftops?
Anyone else have a comment about "Buy Ontario"?

Andrew Campbell said:
http://www.ottawacitizen.com/technology/Ontario+requirement+added+O...

"Solar proponents like Hutcheson are also unhappy with a new rule that will forbid projects on class 1 and 2 agricultural land. Solaris’s Stardale Solar Park in East Hawkesbury, to be built on 100 hectares of prime agricultural land was approved under old rules and will therefore go ahead as planned, officials said."

Plus - they plan on a 'Buy Ontario' plan for this green energy. Is Buy Ontario the right way to go? Aren't we against the US doing it?
If Ontario produces the best solar technology in the world, then "Buy Ontario" is fine. The moment you dictate investment in non-optimal technology is the moment you set the sector up to fail.

I've read that solar voltaic tech is making great gains in terms of cost and efficiency. Why in the world would we handcuff investors with a rule that says they can't go with the best of the best, regardless of where it's from???
So, the OFA is against solar farms on prime agricultural land. What about 393 MW, natural gas-fired peaker plants on Class 1, prime agricultural land. Oh yeah, immediately beside Specialty Crop Area, in the Greenbelt, on a flood plain, and beside a waterway which leads directly to Lake Simcoe, which the Farmers irrigate from. In order for this facility to operate, 18 km of 16" high pressure natural gas line is required. Many of our Holland Marsh Farmers are OFA members--where are you? What is YOUR position on this project? Did you even know about it?
There are many thousands of south facing rooftops in this province which could/should house solar panels before we should even be contemplating using up land for installations.
Once again OFA talks big but doesnt back it up. They seem to absent in the fight to stop just such a farm in eastern ontario. Farmers have been fighting on their own.
Looks the Ontario Government is putting big resources behind their renewable energy policy...likely big impact on Rural Ontario... Joe


Samsung deal to bring wind, solar farms to Ont.: sources
From CBC.ca

A huge green energy deal between the Ontario government and a consortium of South Korean companies led by Samsung is expected to be announced by Premier Dalton McGuinty this week, The Canadian Press has learned.

The negotiations were still going on Tuesday night, but an agreement to have Samsung build dozens of wind and solar farms across the province could be signed by McGuinty as early as Thursday, sources familiar with the deal confirmed.

"The government's really keen to bring a group of companies and an anchor investment into the province to support its green energy efforts," one source said.

The Liberal government ended months of speculation in September when it confirmed it was in talks with Samsung about a project that could create about 15,000 jobs.

Here is the rest of the article.

http://www.cbc.ca/canada/toronto/story/2010/01/19/samsung-solar-win...
Why did they bring in Samsung? They could have invested in some of that ($8Billion?) money in a Canadian firm and had the headoffice as well as the jobs here? What am I missing?
Scares the crap out of me when we give a foreign company 80+ cents per kilowatt and then charge roughly 8cents/kw. Wont take long for hydro rates to skyrocket.

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