Canada Won’t Commit New Funding for Renewable-Energy Program, Oliver Says

Canada won’t commit new funding to a C$1.4-billion ($1.47 billion) program used by companies such as Suncor Energy Inc. (SU) and TransAlta Corp. to fund renewable-energy projects, Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver said today.

Canada plans to cut C$4 billion in spending annually to help it balance its budget by the fiscal year starting April 2014. Oliver said spending restraint was one reason his department hasn’t renewed the ecoEnergy for Renewable Power program, which funded wind farms developed by Suncor and TransAlta as well as solar-power projects developed by Enbridge Inc.

“You’ve got to make choices. You’ve got to make decisions. Things have to be affordable,” Oliver said in a telephone interview with Bloomberg News.

Oliver, who is part of the committee that’s reviewing spending, said the government is trying to balance fiscal prudence and promoting “clean-energy” technologies. Groups such as the Canadian Wind Energy Association have called on the government to renew the program.

The government said today it will invest C$53 million in 17 clean-energy projects across the country, including C$2 million for Solantro Semiconductor Corp. of Ottawa, a company developing technology to improve the performance of solar cells.

Oliver said the government is focusing on projects with commercial applications. “Clean energy funding is designed to have a practical purpose, either in the marketplace or to develop alternative approaches,” he said.

The ecoEnergy for Renewable Power program provides C$1.4 billion over 14 years to fund projects that generate electricity from renewable sources such as wind and solar power.

The government said earlier this month said it would invest another C$400 million in a program that provides grants to homeowners to make energy-saving renovations.

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said his government will run a C$32.3 billion budget deficit in the current fiscal year.

To contact the reporter on this story: Andrew Mayeda in Ottawa at amayeda@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Christopher Wellisz at cwellisz@bloomberg.net; David Scanlan at dscanlan@bloomberg.net.

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