The Ontario government says it will introduce a green power standard (GPS) that will add 3000 MW of new renewables capacity to the province's electricity system by 2014. The GPS will secure 1% of Ontario's current electricity needs from renewable sources each year for eight years, starting in 2006. "We're the first government in Canada to put this kind of program in place and others will look to our example when they set their standards," says Steve Gilchrist, the province's commissioner of alternative energy. The Ontario Electricity Financial Corporation (OEFC), a government agency established to manage the debt of the province's monopoly utility when it was broken up as part of electric industry restructuring, will ask renewable generators to bid for the amount of electricity targeted for renewables each year. OEFC will cover the difference between the cost of renewables and the market price for power. The government has also committed to buying 20% of the electricity it uses from renewable sources. The GPS plan earned the praise of the country's wind energy industry, which, along with the small hydro and biomass sectors, is expected to be among the main beneficiaries. "A sizeable commitment like this will create substantial economic development and jobs as wind and other renewable power generators seek out Ontario-sourced parts and labour," says Glen Estill, president of the Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA). Gilchrist says legislation establishing the GPS will be introduced in the fall 2003 legislative session, although some critics point out that with the governing Conservative party also expected to call an election as early as September, there is a risk the bill could die if it is not passed before the legislature is dissolved. Ontario's major opposition parties have criticised the GPS, saying it is not big enough and does not start quickly enough. CanWEA estimates there is more than 3000 MW of wind energy potential in Ontario.
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