Provincial Energy Minister Promotes Green Economy to Northern Ontario

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Provincial Energy Minister, Brad Duguid, recently toured a hydroelectric project in Kapuskasing, Ontario to promote the province’s push for a greener and more sustainable economy.  During his visit, Duguid stated, “I really think the Green Energy Act is good for the North,” referring to the provincial government’s legislation designed to bolster investment in a cleaner, greener, and healthier Ontario.  He added that the current economic stimulus in green ventures and renewable energy projects is expected to provide a strong return on investment.  The Minister also took the time during his tour to promote the Northern Industrial Electricity Rate Program (NIER) – a project created to help northern industrial companies cover some of the costs they currently pay for high-priced electrical rates.  Announced in the 2010 budget, this newly established economic stimulus program offers recipients incentives to ensure they can compete in the market and retain jobs in Ontario.

Economic Stimulus for a Green Economy

The province’s expanding green economy is expected to create an estimated 50,000 jobs over the next three years.  This economic stimulus will help establish healthier and happier communities through job creation and the development of solar and green training opportunities in Ontario.  Duguid believes, “There’s huge potential here, whether it’s wind, solar, biomass or biogas.”  He further added that Ontario’s commitment to growing a green economy over the next four years would help establish the province as the first region in the world to rely wholly on clean, renewable energy, instead of on expensive, non-renewable coal.

Rate Cut Key Component of Economic Stimulus

The reduction of electricity rates may be a key component to North Ontario’s economic recovery and green growth.  Local industries have long looked to cut costs in order to stay competitive with businesses in neighbouring provinces where electrical costs tend to be lower.  Many investors and manufacturers in the region believe that the recent closure of a well-known metallurgic company in Timmins, Ontario was solely based on the company’s inability to pay the province’s higher electricity costs in a competitive resource-based industry.  The NIER Program is set to save these facilities 25% in energy costs and provide them with 2 cent/kWh rebates over three years.  The program’s proposed price reduction will go into effect in January 2011 and is applicable to 200 of the province’s largest manufacturers, should they commit to a renewable energy plan.  This guarantees the protection of local jobs.  It also bodes well for solar training and renewable energy courses since the region will need a qualified green workforce in order to help build the necessary infrastructure.

Green Energy Act Provides Strong Economic Stimulus

Northern Ontario industries that do not qualify for the NIER program can take advantage of the Ontario Power Authority’s (OPA) Feed-In-Tariff (FIT) program.  Successful applicants receive a fixed rate for the clean energy they produce and return to the local power grid.

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