Ontario says green plan spurs $20 billion in investment

Thu Jul 7, 2011 3:13pm EDT
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By Claire Sibonney and Nicole Mordant

TORONTO/VANCOUVER (Reuters) - The Canadian province of Ontario says its program of providing incentives for green energy production has brought in commitments for C$20 billion ($21 billion) in private-sector investment since the program was put in place in 2009.

Ontario's energy ministry released a report outlining the investments on Thursday, and giving an investment figure for the first time, as the province's governing Liberals get set to campaign ahead of the October 6 election in which their green energy plan is seen as a major and contentious issue.

The plan is the most comprehensive subsidy scheme for clean energy production in North America, and the report said Ontario has signed or offered more than 21,000 contracts to developers of small, medium and large clean energy projects so far.

The C$20 billion figure includes a C$7 billion commitment by South Korea's Samsung C&T, as well as investments already made and planned by other producers who have contracts under the province's feed-in tariff (FIT), Ontario energy minister Brad Duguid said in an interview.

Ontario, Canada's most populous province and its biggest energy consumer, introduced the European-style FIT program two yeas ago as a way to create jobs, cut greenhouse gas emissions and fill some of the electricity supply gap left by its plan to shut down all its coal-fired power stations by 2014.

Polls show the Liberals trailing the opposition Progressive Conservatives, who say the green plan is financially wasteful and has pushed electricity rates too high.

The Conservatives have already said that if elected they will scrap the FIT, which offers generous, above-market rates to producers of green energy under fixed 20-year contracts.

They have also vowed to scrap the Samsung agreement, which is the biggest single investment commitment under the program.   Continued...