Canada launches $2.3-billion wind power initiative

Ontario, Canada is to launch a major $2.3 billion initiative for a makeover for its power grid as part of an ambitious, three-year effort to create 20,000 jobs and deliver more green electricity to homes and businesses in the province.

According to energy and infrastructure minister, George Smitherman, the state-owned utility Hydro One has been asked to quickly implement an expansion plan for augmenting the province's vast network of transmission and distribution lines, many of which run through aboriginal territories extending as far north as Kapuskasing and Kenora.

Around 20 projects are in the pipeline, some of which will boost capacity of existing transmission corridors while others will involve construction of 'enabler lines' that branch out from corridors and tap into areas with rich wind and hydro potential.

"This is an investment in the transmission system that will serve Ontario for decades and decades," Smitherman said at a Canadian Wind Energy Association conference in Toronto. "Ontario intends to be North America's leader in renewable energy."

According to Laura Formusa, president and chief executive of Hydro One, the initiative is one of the most significant transmission projects in history after the last similar project in 2006 when the utility's $800 million transmission link between Ontario and Quebec received clearance.

The wind power industry has hailed the investment as major step in wind power and renewable energy generation where transmission constraints or lack of transmission constraints have held back development.