Ontario's Deputy Premier and Minister of Energy and Infrastructure introduced the Green Energy and Green Economy Act, 2009 ("Bill 150") for first reading in the legislature on February 23, 2009. The Minister predicted that Bill 150, if passed, "would make this province North America's green energy leader" in his statement following first reading. He described "two equally important thrusts" of Bill 150: "making it easier to bring renewable energy projects to life," by eliminating "all kinds of red tape," and "creating a culture of conservation, one where we go about our daily lives using less energy."
These two thrusts combined, said the Minister, "would support a new green economy for this province and help create sustainable green employment for Ontarians." He claimed that, over the next three years, Bill 150 would create more than 50,000 direct and indirect jobs throughout Ontario "as we build on our smart-metering initiative and move toward a smart grid."
Bill 150 would create a new, stand-alone Green Energy Act, 2009, and significantly amend or repeal 17 other statutes in order to set Ontario on a course to a greener economy and a conservation culture. This legislation is aimed at achieving environmental and social goals, in other words, rather than enhancing Ontario's sources of energy on an economically efficient basis. The Ontario Energy Board, for example, would be precluded from applying the prudence standard – a traditional tool of an economic regulator – when considering whether an electricity transmitter or distributor can recover, in its Board-approved rates, the costs of expanding or extending its system to accommodate a renewable energy project.
Bill 150 would place the "nuts and bolts" of the new regulatory framework into regulations and ministerial directives that have yet to be released. Bill 150 clearly indicates, however, that the Government of Ontario intends to keep control of the greening process in its own hands. Municipalities would lose their ability to pass by-laws that would impose restrictions on prescribed green-related activities, for example, because these restrictions would become "inoperative." The Ontario Energy Board, moreover, would have little room for manoeuvre within the constraints on its discretion that the regulations and ministerial directives are likely to impose.