The decrease in the price of oil and resulting available capital may create a surge of investment in cleantech, renewable energy and electricity in Ontario, and Queen’s Park appears to be doing all that it can to aid this East-bound capital flight.
The Liberal government’s much publicized plan to liberalize the electricity sector and privatize 10% – 15% of Ontario Hydro, the Province’s transmission giant, is an attempt to both finance long-term infrastructure projects and take advantage of US investors looking to capitalize on an undervalued asset. The depreciated price for a non-controlling interest in a multi-billion dollar asset will be attractive to Canadian and foreign investors alike looking to maximize return on investment. The Province looks to be trying to emulate the action in the electricity industry in Alberta, which has been attractive to foreign investors. For example, last year, Berkshire Hathaway Energy bought AltaLink, L.P., the province’s largest electrical transmission company.
In addition to the front page policy moves, the Province has also been attempting to stimulate investment in renewable energy and cleantech at the grassroots level. Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC) and MaRS Discovery District have recently announced a new partnership to strengthen efforts to grow Canada’s clean technology and energy innovation sector. The new partnership will collaborate to grow globally-competitive clean technology companies.
These policies and initiatives are a welcomed sign to an industry that has been lagging behind its life sciences and information and communications technology counterparts. Investment in cleantech and renewable energy continue to fall relative to other industries, as its $132 million of venture capital investment last year amounted to only 7% of all investment by venture capital firms in Canada, and the $16 million invested in Q1 2015 amounting to only 5%.
Investors, consumers and tax payers will wait to see if the attempts to stimulate investment in the industry will produce similar results to the FIT programs introduced in 2009.