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Energy act unveiled

Ontario residents won’t be able to sell their houses or condos without first getting a home energy audit — which now costs about $300 — under the proposed new Green Energy Act.

Ontario residents won’t be able to sell their houses or condos without first getting a home energy audit — which now costs about $300 — under the proposed new Green Energy Act.

That’s one of several measures in the legislation unveiled by Energy Minister George Smitherman to boost incentives for electricity conservation and encourage renewable sources of energy.

The legislation was applauded by environmentalists as ambitious, although the David Suzuki Foundation says its green intent is undermined by government plans to build a new nuclear power plant at Darlington.

But critics fear the energy audits and Smitherman’s estimated one per cent rise in household electricity bills as a result of the law will pinch pocketbooks as the recession deepens.

While homeowners will have to get a private contractor to do an energy audit before selling, there will be no requirement to take any action — the measure is simply intended to inform potential buyers what state of energy efficiency a property is in.

As for higher electricity prices, Smitherman promised measures to help low-income families and said that there are incentives and government aid under the act to help homeowners improve their conservation efforts.

The higher cost on electricity bills — and many of the 50,000 jobs that the government says the act will create over three years — will initially stem from a $5-billion investment to improve the electricity transmission and distribution grid.

Smitherman’s plan is to modernize it so homeowners, for example, can put solar panels on their rooftops and sell any excess power they don’t need back into the system at a price yet to be determined, making the grid a “two-way street.”

The act still requires a vote of the legislature this spring.