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Ontario going green

I've got to hand it to our neighbors north of the border.

A decade ago, the provincial government decided there were too many overlapping, duplicate layers of government in Ontario, and almost overnight, they consolidated.

Now, Queen's Park, as their Albany is known, has decided the province is going green. Big time green.

As in, the green leader in North America.

As in, 50,000 new jobs over the next three years. (Now that's a stimulus package).

As in, we're not messing around with half-measures.

Gristmill has this excellent summary of the legislation, complete with links to other useful resources.

For a quick overview, here's what the Ottawa Citizen reported last week:

Homeowners in Ontario will be forced to conduct energy audits before selling their property as part of new legislation introduced Monday at Queen’s Park.

The change is one of many provisions in the province’s new Green Energy Act, a law the government claims will generate 50,000 new jobs in the next three years while raising the average electricity bill by only one per cent.

Energy minister George Smitherman said there will be “vast job opportunities in more efficient building design and retrofits for architects, engineers, contractors and installers.”

“Work for builders, financiers, electricians and inspectors … in construction, manufacturing and assembly, servicing and installation, engineering and trucking,” he said.

Smitherman said the jobs numbers were derived from economic modeling. Officials could not provide any projections, however, on how much the government will spend to support the provisions.

The legislation will also streamline project approvals, amend building codes for new construction, mandate more efficient appliances, and provide zero or low-interest loans to homeowners who wish to build their own small scale solar, micro-wind, ground source heat pumps or solar thermal projects.

The government will also offer a guaranteed price – and will require a certain amount of local content - for all renewable power, including wind, solar, hydro, biomass, biogas and landfill gas. That price has not been set.

Smitherman said that provision, known as a feed-in-Tariff, would put Ontario on a level of “global green power leaders like Denmark, Germany and Spain.”

The legislation sets out broad-stroke intentions. Details could take years to develop regulations that bring those intentions into effect.

Tomorrow, I'll report what some folks in WNY's green and economic development communities have to say about this. I'll add my 2 cents worth, as well.

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