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NEWS: WTO director-general critical of Ontario’s Green Energy Act

The Globe and Mail reports that, “Just days after Japan challenged Ontario’s (Green Energy Act) legislation at the World Trade Organization, WTO director-general Pascal Lamy urged governments to liberalize energy trade and limit the use of tariff barriers and preferential procurement rules. …The centrepiece of Ontario’s energy plan is the subsidy plan that pays premium prices for power from wind, solar, small hydro and biomass. However, developers must procure a certain percentage of the required goods and services within the province. …Quebec and other provinces also have local procurement rules under their various renewable energy plans.”

PACAL LAMY: “(Lamy) said protectionism in the sector drives up costs, which slows adoption of green technology and perpetuates ‘energy poverty’ in the world, where 1.5 billion people do not have access to commercial energy sources.”

WORLD ENERGY COUNCIL: “In a report submitted to the WTO on Thursday, the World Energy Council urged governments to eliminate tariffs on a long list of energy technologies, including turbines and solar panels, and to reduce non-tariff barriers.”

GENERAL ELECTRIC: “(GE vice-chairman John) Krenicki said some 30 U.S. states now have programs to require their utilities to purchase renewable power – and many of those have local preference policies. But he said the industry will never be competitive if each jurisdiction requires companies to build local manufacturing plants.”

CETA: “Ottawa is currently negotiating a comprehensive trade agreement with the European Union, and the Europeans are taking aim at provincial procurement policies in energy and other sectors. GE executive Timothy Richards – who chaired the council’s committee on trade – said the group is urging governments to commit to liberalizing their energy markets under the WTO’s Doha round of negotiations. But those talks have bogged down and the committee is urging industrialized nations to move separately on energy trade in goods and services.” A recent media release from the Council of Canadians notes that, “Based on a leaked copy of the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), EU negotiators are seeking to kill the Green Energy Act by including energy and electricity agencies and utilities in the agreement’s procurement chapter.”

The Globe and Mail notes that, “Trade lawyers say it will be difficult for Japan to win its WTO case, because the international trade agreements provide exemptions for government procurement and may not bind sub-national governments.” The article also notes that, “(Ontario energy minister Brad Duguid) said the (Ontario Green Energy Act) is consistent with Canada’s obligations under the World Trade Organization.”

The full article can be read at http://www.ctv.ca/generic/generated/static/business/article1710881.html.

The Council of Canadians media release about Japan’s WTO challenge against Ontario’s Green Energy Act is at http://canadians.org/media/trade/2010/13-Sep-10.html.