Ontario hangs energy future on green power

Tue Nov 23, 2010 6:24pm EST
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By Claire Sibonney and Nicole Mordant

TORONTO/VANCOUVER (Reuters) - Ontario unveiled a sweeping long-term power plan on Tuesday that throws the province's support squarely behind renewable energy, but also brought bad news for consumers who will see their electricity bills double by 2030.

Canada's most populous province sees the proportion of Ontario's electricity coming from renewable sources like wind and solar rising by 10 percentage points to 13 percent by 2018, according to the energy blueprint.

While the news was welcomed by supporters of renewable and nuclear energy, consumers will see electricity bills soar as the province invests billions in new transmission lines, refurbishes and starts up new nuclear facilities, and pays above-market rates for solar and wind energy.

The province estimates that private and public capital investments totaling C$87 billion ($85.2 billion) will be needed to make the 20-year plan work.

"The proof of the pudding always is in the eating of it and there's a lot in this plan that is aspirational, and I think some of the targets are good but ambitious," said Adam White, president of the Association of Major Power Consumers in Ontario.

Last year, Ontario launched its Green Energy Act and North America's most comprehensive and lucrative set of feed-in tariffs, or rates, paid to developers of energy from renewable sources like the sun, wind, water, biomass and biogas.

The energy from low-emissions sources will help to fill the power void as the province shuts down all its high-emissions coal-fired power stations by 2014.

The province, whose manufacturing sector was hard-hit by the global recession, hopes to create 50,000 jobs in the first three years from a green energy industry.   Continued...