Province risks scaring away renewable energy investors, says Etcheverry




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Proposed changes to Ontario’s rules for renewable power projects will prevent some new ones from starting up in the province, wrote the Kingston Whig-Standard July 10.

“[The existing program] is attracting a lot of investment internationally in the province in the area of renewable energy, so it’s very important that the government sends a clear signal so investors aren’t scared away from our province,” said Jose Etcheverry, a professor in York’s Faculty of Environmental Studies and a climate-change policy analyst for the David Suzuki Foundation.

A spokesperson for the Ontario Power Authority said the problem is that the demand for the standard offer program to date has far exceeded the limitations of some local electricity distribution and transmission systems. Etcheverry doesn’t buy this as a reason to curtail renewable energy projects. “There are parts of the province where new transmission is necessary to accommodate renewable energy, but the way around this is by building new transmission not by constraining the development of renewable energy,” he said.

Etcheverry said the proposed changes have more to do with the Ontario Power Authority’s emphasis on nuclear power as opposed to renewables. “This is what this is all about – two schools of thought that are competing against each other,” he said.

Etcheverry describes renewables as the “biggest industrial opportunity available for Ontario. “In a highly industrialized location such as Ontario, we could re-tool existing industries that are, at the moment, going bankrupt like the auto industry to produce renewable energy systems,” he said.

He also said there is a sense of urgency to act now to foster a renewables industry in Ontario because the province is competing with other locations, including the United States, where a major shift in thought is expected to occur about environmental issues after the next presidential election. “Are we going to be buying manufactured renewable energy systems from the United States or are we going to do it ourselves?” said Etcheverry. “Right now, the standard-offer contract has put us at an advantage.”

University presidents’ compensation linked to demands of the post

At York University, President & Vice-Chancellor Mamdouh Shoukri was guaranteed a performance bonus worth one-quarter of his salary, more than $81,000, for his first year, and will have $50,000 of a housing loan forgiven for every year he stays, wrote The Globe and Mail July 10 in a story about the release of details in the contracts of university presidents after a freedom of information battle.

Those responsible for approving such deals say they are necessary to attract candidates, said the Globe. Janet Wright, a search consultant who has recruited more than 40 Canadian university presidents in the past 27 years, says the demands of the post, which include fundraising, government negotiations and public events, mean the days when leaders kept a hand in the academic world are almost gone. As well, she said, increasing money for research and opportunities outside academic life mean potential candidates have plenty of options.

The new compensation information also shows that some practices now rare in the corporate world, such as special loans to executives, are being used to recruit candidates to the top job on campus. Executive compensation expert Ken Hugessen says such deals fell into disfavour after US scandals that saw millions in loans to executives who could not repay them. Richard Fisher, York’s chief marketing & communications officer, described partial forgiving of the housing loan of up to $750,000 in its president’s contract as a reward for years of service.

‘Anonymity’ plays role in aggressive driving behaviour, says York prof

Road rage often happens because cars on highways offer a level of anonymity that can lead people to feel more empowered to commit such crimes, said David Wiesenthal, a psychology professor in York’s Faculty of Health, in the Hamilton Spectator July 10. “You’re not going to see these people again,” he said.

“If your neighbour is backing out of her driveway and you have to stop short to avoid hitting her because she didn’t look, you’re not going to honk or swear at her because you’re going to see her every day.”

Off the road, mobs, darkness and wearing masks or uniforms are also common to aggressive and violent behaviour, says Wiesenthal, because they too offer a level of anonymity. He says those succumbing to aggressive behaviour are typically men under 30 and people with a higher baseline level of stress or impulse-control problems

McGuinty says other projects are clouding Spadina subway extension

Premier Dalton McGuinty says something “gummed up” expected movement on the Spadina subway extension, wrote The Canadian Press July 9. McGuinty says he had expected shovels in the ground this week.

McGuinty would not say exactly what went wrong. Nor would he blame the federal government for the delay. He did say other infrastructure announcements are “clouding this major priority” but he wants those dealt with separately.

The multibillion-dollar project would see the subway line extended past York University’s Keele campus into York Region.

  • The premier’s comments were also reported on CBC Radio and CTV News July 9.

Socially awkward? Hit the books

A group of Toronto researchers have compiled a body of evidence showing that bookworms have exceptionally strong people skills, wrote The Globe and Mail July 10.

Now researchers are using empirical methods to see whether the suspected psychological benefits are real. Their positive findings have given fiction some credit at a time when funding for some arts programs is being threatened and kids would rather grab a joystick than a Judy Blume novel, says Raymond Mar, a psychology professor in York’s Faculty of Health, who has researched the science of fiction for seven years.

“Fiction doesn’t get a lot of respect,” he said. “It has always been viewed as false and as a frivolous thing that had no bearing on real life. But the fact of the matter is there are effects that continue on after we close the book.” Mar says this body of research is still in its infancy and there are still many unanswered questions that he and his collaborators plan to tackle.

Glendon/Osgoode grad is called to the bar

York alumna Shannon Kampf (BA ’01, LLB ’07) was called to the Bar of Ontario and became a member of the Law Society of Upper Canada on June 20, 2008, wrote BC’s Vernon Morning Star July 8. Kampf graduated from York’s Osgoode Hall Law School in 2007, where she won the Joel S. Guberman prize in Immigration Law. She articled in Toronto at Green & Spiegel, Canada’s largest immigration practice, and has commenced her career in immigration and refugee law at that firm.

Kampf was a scholarship student at York’s Glendon campus, graduating with a bilingual honours BA in international studies, said the Morning Star. She worked in youth development for the United Nations Volunteers at their head office in Bonn, Germany, after graduating from Glendon. She later returned to Canada to become the manager of Student Affairs in Canada at Glendon prior to entering law school.

Back to School campaign underway

The goal of the Back to School campaign at Truro Mall is to buy school supplies for underprivileged kids in the community, said co-ordinator and York student Tiffany Richards, a summer student with Maggie’s Place, in The Daily News (Truro, NS) July 10. “This project means a lot to me; from working at Maggie’s Place I can see there is a great need in the community.”

University student dances toward degree with recital

A York University student has taken the age-old struggle children have with cleaning their rooms, and turned it into a stage show as part of her work toward her dance degree, wrote the Port Hope Evening Guide July 10. Nicki Dwyer invites everyone to see the result Saturday, July 19, at the Park Playhouse in Cobourg.

The World Under My Bed is actually based upon a children’s book she has written. “I have always had a love for storytelling, especially with children,” the Cobourg resident said. “I thought what better way to be part of it than to write a book myself.”