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TORONTO (Reuters) - A C$7 billion ($6.7 billion) green energy investment by a consortium led by South Korea's Samsung C&T Corp will make Ontario a leader in renewable energy technology, the Canadian province said on Thursday.
The project to build four wind and solar power clusters in Ontario, Canada's most populous province, will have a combined power-generating capacity of 2.5 gigawatts by 2016. That's equivalent to 4 percent of Ontario's total electricity consumption.
It will include wind turbines that will generate up to 2,000 megawatts, as well as solar power facilities that will generate up to 500 megawatts.
Ontario has agreed buy electricity from the group.
The province's Green Energy Act guarantees above-market prices for green power, which has led to criticisms that the deal is effectively a subsidy to Samsung.
But the act also says Ontario must shut down all of its coal-fired power plants by 2014 and increase its ratio of renewable power generation, and Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty said the project would help meet those goals.
He said that on top of the 16,000 jobs the project was expected to create, it would position Ontario as a leader in green technology manufacturing.
"We're doing more than buying a huge amount of electricity, we are doing more than just creating jobs... we are trying to lay the foundation here for economic growth," he said. "If we can build the capacity here to deliver renewable technology to the U.S. market, that's a good thing."
About 4,000 of the jobs will be permanent, an Ontario government official said.
The consortium will build four manufacturing plants in Ontario between 2013 and 2015 -- one for wind towers, one for solar inverters, one for solar module assembly, and one for wind blades. In addition to the plants, which will also make equipment for sales in the United States and elsewhere, the clusters will include wind and solar power generating farms.
Ontario is also kicking in about C$437 million in incentives to the consortium, which are tied to the manufacturing plants being built on time.
The consortium's manufacturing partners include Dongkuk Steel, and Satcon and Pattern Energy Group.
Reporting by John McCrank