An ambitious plan to attract investment in renewable energy to Ontario will mean slightly higher energy bills for consumers, mandatory energy audits for residents selling homes, and more solar panels and wind turbines dotting the province’s roofs and landscape.
The Liberal government says the plan will transform the province into one of the most attractive places for green energy investments and create 50,000 jobs over three years — but critics are calling the blueprint vague and short on specifics.
“The earliest investments and most of the jobs are related to a substantial new investment in transmission system and also in distribution systems,” Energy Minister George Smitherman said yesterday after introducing the Green Energy Act.
“If 25,000 rooftops in the City of Toronto were to be transitioned to use for solar, that puts a lot of pressure on Toronto Hydro at the distributed generation side to get those connected.”
The legislation doesn’t include details on how the jobs will be created, though Smitherman said the plan will boost work in construction, trucking and engineering. Architects, contractors and installers are also expected to gain more work as they are asked to retrofit buildings for energy efficiency.
The plan will also allow homeowners to become small-time energy producers, since they will be encouraged to sell any extra electricity they produce into the grid. A small increase in electricity bills will result from a call for $5 billion in incremental investments over three years.
“We anticipate that associated with the investments that I’m speaking about today, (the increase will be) approximately one per cent per year,” Smitherman said.
“But please keep in mind what we’re trying to do that as well is equip people with the capacity to operate … using less electricity.”