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Ontario’s $2.3 billion green electricity investment

Last Tuesday, the Toronto Star reported that, “Ontario’s power grid is getting a $2.3 billion makeover as part of an ambitious, three-year effort to create 20,000 jobs and bring more green electricity to homes and businesses across the province.”

“Energy and Infrastructure Minister George Smitherman said yesterday that Crown-owned Hydro One has been told to move quickly on a plan to expand and fortify the province’s vast network of power-carrying transmission and distribution lines…”

“In all, 20 projects are slated to go ahead. …The government said the utility will likely need to bring in private partners to assist in building and upgrading transmission lines because of the ‘massive scope’ of the initiative. It also hinted that aboriginal communities will be directly involved, potentially becoming equity owners in specific transmission projects.”

“Montreal-based engineering firm SNC Lavalin, one of several contractors likely to get work from the Hydro One investment…”

Then on Saturday, the Toronto Star reported that, “The Ontario government is in advanced negotiations with South Korean industrial and electronics powerhouse Samsung Group about manufacturing wind turbines and other green-energy gear – including solar panels – in the province.”

“Samsung officials visited Crown land this summer in South Cayuga, Haldimand County, about two hours southwest of Toronto. They met with Six Nations Chief William Montour to talk about a plan to build a 55-turbine wind farm, and using aboriginal workers to help manufacture and erect the turbines.”

(The Globe and Mail reports today that, “Samsung is apparently pondering a wind farm comprising 200 turbines on the north shore of Lake Erie …from Port Maitland toward Nanticoke.”)

“Under the province’s new feed-in tariff program, which began Thursday, developers of wind turbines can earn a generous 13.5 cents for each kilowatt-hour of electricity they sell back to the province – about double what consumers pay right now.”

(The Globe explains that, “A feed-n tariff…is a fixed price that a utility pays producers for renewable electricity. Often the price is considerably above the market rate for electricity from conventional sources – nuclear or coal plants – essentially subsidizing the – wind turbine, solar panel, biomass – power projects.”)

“Smitherman said Samsung, as a developer, will get the same rate as every other developer taking part in the program. But if the company commits to manufacturing its equipment in Ontario, it will get what he called an ‘economic adder’ on top of the 13.5 cents rate. He wouldn’t say how much that benefit might be.”

On Friday, the Ottawa Citizen reported “Buy Ontario requirement added to Ontario green-energy plan.”

That article notes that Ontario premier Dalton McGuinty has announced “new ‘Buy Ontario’ requirements, which call for 50 per cent of all project costs to come from local goods and labour (that number rises to 60 per cent Jan. 1, 2011).”

“The new provision will force solar parks to use Ontario-built panels — which typically make up 60 per cent of a project’s cost. Only one company in the province manufactures solar panels.”

(The Canadian Press reports that Samsung “has also entered the solar-panel business, and both solar-panel and wind-turbine manufacturing in Ontario are reported to be part of the talks with the province.”)

Last Tuesday’s Toronto Star article is at http://www.thestar.com/business/article/698928.

Saturday’s Toronto Star article is at http://www.thestar.com/Business/article/701666.

The Ottawa Citizen report is at http://www.ottawacitizen.com/technology/Ontario+requirement+added+Ontario+green+energy+plan/2029618/story.html.