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McGuinty pushes green hookups

The Ottawa Sun: LAURA CZEKAJ - February 6, 2009

The province's plan to implement a "smart" electricity grid to accommodate renewable energy will generate more than just green power -- it's also expected to generate jobs.

Plans to modernize the power-generating system to handle more smaller renewable power sources will be incorporated into the Green Energy Act, which will make its debut before the Ontario legislature later this month, Premier Dalton McGuinty said in a speech to the Ottawa Chamber of Commerce yesterday.

"Our intention is to unleash an explosion of new, green energy, and create more than 50,000 jobs over the next three years," McGuinty said.

The act is expected to spark a rise in renewable energy production and to make it easier for power plants working with wind turbines, solar panels and biofuel to hook into the energy transmission system.

"Our current system was built to deliver large amounts of electricity from a few generating stations," said McGuinty. "We need a smart grid that can deliver smaller amounts of power from a larger number of sources."

The provincial government's move toward renewable energy sources is a step in the right direction, said Dan McDermott, director of the Sierra Club's Ontario chapter. "We wish they would go a lot further, a lot faster," he added.

Mike McGahern, owner of Ottawa Solar Power, said an initiative of this sort makes sense but would need to make it easier for homeowners using renewable energy sources to connect to the grid and reap the financial benefits.

He added there is only a limited number of Ottawa residents using solar panels because there aren't the necessary incentives to equip a home with the power-generating devices.

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