Monday, 11 January 2010

Letter to the blog

Dear Editor,

Thank you for your ongoing work in sharing Cramahe news.

Friends have talked of the Ontario grid-tied energy program; some are interested in the 81-cent contract for solar energy.

The Feed-In-Tariff (FIT) contract has several clauses which must be removed for the program to be useful. As it stands, any who sign the contract give away- "transfer"- their rights to the "environmental attributes" including the rights to future development and profits.

Here's how:

1) Under NAFTA and other 'free trade' and inter-provincial agreements, when private entities function in cross-border trade - as investors, infrastructure, or service 'partners', they are given rights which include the ability to sue public bodies for regulations which limit their private profit. Decisions are made by unelected, appointed trade dispute tribunals.

These investor-state provisions have been expanded in Harper’s attempts to include sub-federal procurement with the US. McGuinty too has put similar clauses and dispute processes in his inter-provincial trade agreement.

The European Union, in negotiations with the Harper government, has expressed interest in our energy and water and pushed for free trade in services.

Under current and pending trade deals, transnational corporate investors, infrastructure and service providers are given additional rights over residents, each time they are given more of our public services. These rights include all functional rights pertaining to use and development of energy sources, and rights to profit.

2) The Dec. 10th contract for would-be solar providers in Ontario forces them to transfer their rights. .

Section 5.1 Transfer of Rights refers to the Appendix of Definitions on Environmental Attributes. This includes, "c) any and all rights, title, and interest relating to the nature of an energy source...”

The definition incorporates any present or future role of non-government agencies (ie corporations), federally or internationally.

The section on applicable laws states these transfers of rights are subject to all federal laws, which of course include trade law as noted in 1) above. Corporations partnered with the province or feds, now or in future, would have the rights to onsite environmental attributes.

Section 10 Termination of the Agreement states you can cancel the agreement with thirty days notice BUT Section 12 on Assignment says the OPA can transfer the rights (which you've transferred to it) to anyone else at any time without your consent. The rights transferred to other parties may remain in force because of law even though you cancel the contract agreement.

The bottom line is they're making the feed-in tariff program look initially appealing to potential suppliers, but participants sign away the most lucrative rights, which can only increase in value in future.

Immediate Solutions:

The rights to energy must be retained by communities and residents. Problematic clauses in FIT contracts must be eliminated.


We can cancel trade deals and out-vote destructive politicians. We can retain public assets and public rights.

Energy sources, access and benefit from sun, wind, and water, are a gift in nature belonging to all. Benefit can be recycled back to local communities, not privatized and given away.


Leigh Thomson

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