Ontario puts focus on green energy, jobs: minister

Wed Oct 13, 2010 3:05pm EDT
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By Susan Taylor

OTTAWA (Reuters) - It is no surprise that Ontario is the target of an international green energy trade dispute, the Canadian province's energy minister said on Wednesday, given the formidable growth of its renewable power sector.

Ontario, Canada's most populous province and the country's economic heartland, is the target of a Japanese complaint to the World Trade Organization about renewable energy equipment.

The dispute centers on Ontario's year-old Green Energy Act and its local procurement requirements for project approval, which Japan argues are a "prohibited subsidy".

"We're not surprised at all, given the attention that Ontario's efforts to become a global leader in green energy have generated internationally," Minister of Energy Brad Duguid said in an interview with Reuters.

"That being said, we are confident that we are consistent with our trade obligations and we believe it's a good thing, as we build green energy projects across Ontario, that we're creating hundreds, if not thousands, of jobs."

It is not yet known when Japan's complaint will move to consultation talks, the next step in the WTO process.

Ontario's Green Energy Act, which includes generous rates and long-term contracts for renewable power projects, aims to create jobs and help eliminate coal-fired generators, the province's biggest single source of greenhouse gases.

It has a made-in-Ontario quota that requires up to 50 percent of all project inputs to come from the province.   Continued...