Ontario plans to energize economy with green power

TORONTO — Ontario’s proposed Green Energy Act should provide a boost to the trucking, construction and engineering sectors, according to Energy Minister George Smitherman.

Smitherman introduced the bill in the Ontario legislature on Feb. 23, where the first reading carried, and expects the legislation to create a total of 50,000 jobs in the province during the first three years.

The legislation will amend 15 statutes and ultimately hopes to boost investment in renewable energy projects and increase conservation, creating green jobs and economic growth to Ontario.

“Our ambition is to increase the standard of living and quality of life for all Ontario’s families. That is best achieved by creating the conditions for green economic growth,” says Smitherman.

If the act is passed, it would expedite the growth of clean, renewable sources of energy, like wind, solar, hydro, biomass and biogas. In effort to achieve the levels of participation needed from industry, the act will create a feed-in Tariff that guarantees specific rates for energy generated from renewable sources.

As well, the act will establish the right to connect to the electricity grid for renewable energy projects that meet technical, economic and other regulatory requirements; establish a one-stop streamlined approvals process, providing service guarantees for renewable energy projects that meet regulatory requirements; and implement a “smart” power grid to support the development of new renewable energy projects, and prepare Ontario for new technologies like electric cars.

According to the Canadian Press, Premier Dalton McGuinty supports the bill and says a switch from making cars to making wind turbines may not be an easy initial transition for workers, but green technology is key to boosting the province’s economy.

The province isn’t turning away from its traditional auto jobs, but has a responsibility to create new work as well as a sustainable energy base, notes McGuinty.

While political critics are in agree that green energy is the right route, they didn’t pass up the opportunity to question the current government.

Progressive Conservative critic John Yakabuski called the legislation vague, and notes the legislation doesn’t explain what the changes will mean to electricity pricing.

— with files from the Canadian Press

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