North American utility giant gets green tinge

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One of North America's largest electricity generating companies is turning its attention to new and renewable energy technologies. Ontario Power Generation has launched OPG Ventures Inc, a subsidiary that will invest in emerging energy technologies, including those that are "green, small and distributed." The new company plans to make up to C$100 million of investments over the next three years in firms that have alternative generation, or related technologies in the advanced start-up or later stage of growth. Making individual investments of C$2-$3 million each, it hopes to create a portfolio of 20 to 25 companies. In addition, up to 25% of the fund will be invested in established energy-related venture funds with a predominately North American focus. "Energy technology investment is taking off, just like similar investments did when the telecommunications industry deregulated -- the outcome then was new, innovative products and services," says Peter Crombie, CEO of OPG Ventures. OPG has created a new renewable energy division to develop wind, biomass, small hydro and solar energy projects. The creation of the new operation, called OPG Evergreen Energy, is part of the company's drive to become "a leader in this market sector," says Graham Brown, OPG's chief operating officer. "Developing these types of projects is good for the environment, but it's also smart business. Our customers are telling us they want a green power option and we will provide as much as they are willing to pay for," Brown says.

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