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Monday August 27, 2007

Renewable energy to expand in Ontario

TORONTO, Aug. 27, 2007 (GLOBE-Net) - Ontario is moving forward to add an additional 2,000 megawatts (MW) of green renewable power, Energy Minister Dwight Duncan announced today. The procurements that will flow from today’s directive to the Ontario Power Authority will bring the amount of renewable energy acquired by the government to 4,000 MW.

The Ontario government has directed the Ontario Power Authority (OPA) to procure a further 2000 MW of new renewable energy, including wind energy, in the province. The directive calls on the OPA to issue a request for proposals for an initial 500 MW of new renewable energy before the end of the year.

The Ontario Power Authority (OPA) will initiate consultations with First Nations and Métis communities, the renewable energy industry, and other stakeholders to establish timelines and to determine how the additional power will be procured. The OPA will commence the process on procuring the first 500 MW by the end of this year. All procurements under this directive will be for projects that are greater than 10 MW.

"We are pleased that the Ontario government has moved to create new opportunities for the wind energy industry in Ontario and to continue to pursue the development of the province’s vast wind energy resources," said Robert Hornung, Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA) President.

"From our research we know that a significant majority of Ontario’s citizens believe that wind power is leading Ontario to a clean energy future. This announcement should be well received by all those wanting to stimulate new economic development in rural communities while supporting a healthier environment and a solution to climate change."

Ontario’s current installed wind energy capacity sits at just over 415 MW, with an additional 1200 MW under contract. While details of Ontario’s new procurement initiative are still to come, CanWEA hopes that they will be accompanied by actions that will ensure the rapid delivery of this new renewable power by addressing some current challenges facing renewable energy in Ontario.

Over the past four years, the Ontario government has taken several steps to increase Ontario’s electricity supply from green, renewable sources. It has:

  • Signed contracts for 18 medium to large-scale renewable energy projects across Ontario through two Requests for Proposal that will generate over 1,300 MW of clean renewable energy from wind, water, landfill gas and biogas. This includes increasing Ontario’s existing renewable wind energy capacity 25-fold from 15 MW to over 415 MW -enough power for over 100,000 homes.

  • Launched Ontario’s Renewable Energy Standard Offer Program, which has seen in the last seven months over 100 contracts signed representing over 500 MW of distributed generation from renewable sources.

  • Commenced construction on a new tunnel under the City of Niagara Falls using Big Becky - the world’s largest tunnel boring machine. Once completed, the project will add an anticipated 200 MW to the grid, enough power for 160,000 homes.

  • Launched a Pilot Financing program for Residential Renewable Energy. The government is providing $1.3 million over two years to two distribution companies so they can provide zero-interest loans to customers who invest in alternative and renewable energy sources such as small-scale wind turbines, solar thermal, solar photovoltaic, and geothermal systems.

"This new directive on renewable energy procurement is an important step forward for Ontario," Mr. Hornung said. "To ensure its full success, further action is required to address the permitting delays and transmission constraints currently faced by many wind power projects in the province. We are keen to work with the province to act quickly to remove bottlenecks that would prevent the rapid implementation of renewable energy investments that will support rural economies and Ontario’s energy future."