Ontario’s big windy gamble. The province is betting on wind power, and critics are lining up.

Ontario is already North America’s friendliest jurisdiction for wind and other renewable energy projects, thanks to its recently proclaimed Green Energy Act, meant to speed along approval, and the establishment of European-style 20-year fixed-price energy contracts. (Power companies are now required to integrate all new green energy projects into their grids and pay producers 13.5 cents per kilowatt hour for onshore wind farms, 19 cents/kWh for offshore wind, and up to 80.2 cents/kWh for solar power, versus about six cents/kWh for both hydro and nuclear energy.) The province, which is committed to shutting down its coal-fired plants by 2014, will have 1,200 megawatts of wind power in operation by the end of this year, and there are 103 more “shovel ready” wind developments, totalling 3,263 MW, in the pipeline. The proliferation of giant turbines—80-m-tall towers with 40- to 45-m blades—is already nearing the 5,000 MW supply ceiling the Ontario Power Authority has said it can easily integrate into its aging grid. But soon, there will be no more limits. Smitherman is promising a series of major power infrastructure announcements in coming weeks that will not only make wind a much bigger part of Ontario’s energy mix, but open up vast new areas of the province to commercial wind development.
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