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Great Lakes Article:

Liberals eye wind farms in Ontario
By Caroline Mallan
The Toronto Star

Just one day before electricity prices are set to rise in Ontario, the province is announcing that it will open up crown land for the creation of wind farms.

Natural Resources Minister David Ramsay will use the lone wind turbine at Toronto's Exhibition Place as a backdrop for an announcement that provincially owned lands around the province could house wind farms as early as 2005.

The Liberal government has vowed to shut down the province's coal-fired plants by 2007 and to encourage increased reliance on both wind power and hydro by harnessing more of Ontario's smaller waterways.

"This government is committed to phasing out coal-fired electricity generating plants and developing clean, renewable domestic energy sources," a senior Liberal said of the plan.

It is expected that the most of the crown land used for wind power will be on the north shore of Lake Superior and offshore in the Great Lakes.

Other parts of the province that are candidates for wind farms include crown land outside of Sault Ste. Marie, Windsor, Sarnia, Chatham, Hamilton and Belleville.

The province wants to build about 3,000 megawatts' worth of wind power generation on crown lands. The plan might run into community opposition after one planned wind farm in Prince Edward Country in eastern Ontario ran in vocal objections from local residents who see the massive wind turbines as an eyesore on the horizon.

The government will also float a plan today inviting private companies and other groups to make proposals for harnessing waterways on crown land.

That move will be subjected to an environmental assessment. The Liberals campaigned in the last election on pursuing alternativeenergy and to expand hydro generation capacity at Niagara Falls with the addition of a third generating station.

Energy Minister Dwight Duncan announced in November that the cap of 4.3 cents a kilowatt hour on electricity prices was not sustainable and would have to rise so that consumers pay more of the actual cost of the energy they use.

As a result, effective tomorrow, prices will rise to 4.7 cents a kilowatt hour for the first 750 hours of energy used by a household, and to 5.5 cents for electricity used after that.

The average bill is expected to go up 6 to 10 per cent.

Without the price hike, Duncan argued, the province would be forced to continue to subsidize the price of hydro by more than $800 million a year - a price tag that Premier Dalton McGuinty said was unrealistic given the deficit facing the government.

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