Wind power stall

It has been apparent that Ontario’s green energy program has been going sideways for some time now. Few of the promises the governing Liberals invoked when embarking on this adventure have been delivered. This week, another promise relating to Ontario’s green energy revolution came into serious question.

When it started, Ontario was poised to be a green energy leader in the world, as the province got in front of the inevitable shift toward renewable sources of electricity. ‘Green jobs’ would be the order of the day.

If there was a boom time for green energy job in Ontario, we could be seeing the first sign that the boom times are over.

Siemens, a multinational manufacturer of (among other things) wind turbines, announced it would be shutting its doors, putting 340 of its employees out of work — and putting into serious doubt the promise of a wealth of green energy jobs.

According to the company, there were a few factors at play in its decision to close the facility. For one, the plant was set up to manufacture smaller turbine blades than what the industry standard is moving toward, and the investment required to expand the Tillsonburg plant wouldn’t be cost-effective. Changes in the market also had an effect, they said.

It’s hard to imagine that the provincial government’s change of heart when it comes to green energy wasn’t a big factor. The plant, and a few others, rode a wave of subsidies into being less than a decade ago. Now, as the province abandons the green energy plan in order to put the brakes on rising energy prices, the prospect of new wind farms being constructed in Ontario are also drying up. We have to wonder if the provincial government’s attempt to artificially jump start a green energy economy is now falling flat, and the Siemens closure is the first sign of trouble.

Any promise of a new market in the United States, of course, is in jeopardy as the current administration turns its back on efforts to reduce climate change, and tries to turn back the clock in an attempt to revive a flagging coal industry.

Not all of the green energy promise has been a mirage. Ontario has transitioned away from coal-fired generating stations, and we’ve all got cleaner air now for the effort. That’s good.

At the same time, electricity prices have skyrocketed (and, even with recent reduction efforts, are expected to continue to go up in the future). Now, the promise of being at the forefront of the green economy appears to be in jeopardy too, if the Tillsonburg closure is a sign of things to come.

The government insists that the outlook remains bright. They’ll forgive us if we take those assurances with a grain of salt.

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