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Gipe Receives Canadian Wind Award for Feed-in Tariff Campaign

Article by: Paul Gipe

Long-time renewable energy advocate Paul Gipe was selected by the Canadian Wind Energy Association for its Individual Leadership Award at its 2009 conference in Toronto September 22.

The Canadian trade association honored Gipe, a Californian, for leading the campaign to bring an innovative renewable energy program to the province of Ontario.

On September 24, the Government of Ontario launched a renewable energy program that pays solar and wind energy producers for their electricity. The announcement was the culmination of a campaign begun in 2004 by Gipe for the Ontario Sustainable Energy Association to adapt a comprehensive system of feed-in tariffs to the North American market.

Gipe’s campaign for Advanced Renewable Tariffs in Ontario has sparked interest in the policy across the continent, from Nova Scotia to California. Vermont recently implemented a more modest version of the Ontario program, and Hawaii has announced that it will soon set the rates it will pay renewable energy generators for their electricity as Ontario does.

Sophisticated systems of feed-in tariffs like Ontario’s have been wildly successful in developing renewable energy in Europe. Germany and Spain, which both use the policy, are the world’s leaders in wind and solar energy.

The Ontario program has been described as “the most progressive renewable energy policy in North America in three decades.” Not since the US Congress passed the National Energy Act in 1978 has there been such sweeping reform of electricity generation on the continent.

Gipe was moved by the distinction. “I am honored that a Canadian organization chose to present me, an American, with this award. I feel privileged to have had the opportunity to live and work in Canada and I am particularly thankful that Ontarians have chosen to take the lead in developing renewable energy in North America through a system of feed-in tariffs.”

Feed-in tariffs are more egalitarian than other policy mechanisms currently used in North America, and allow homeowners, apartment dwellers, and farmers, as well as small businesses to produce renewably-generated electricity and sell it to the grid for a profit.