The federal Conservative government is to announce today a subsidy for electricity generated by wind, solar and other forms of renewable energy.
The aid ““ called the EcoEnergy Renewable Power Initiative ““ will amount to less than a similar Liberal plan the Conservatives scrapped nearly a year ago, the Toronto Star has learned.
On Sunday, sources say, the federal government will unveil a revised version of the program that paid part of the cost when homeowners make their house more energy efficient.
Today’s announcement on renewable energy is to be made in British Columbia by Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Natural Resources Minister Gary Lunn.
The program will pay 1 cent per kilowatt-hour for electricity from large-scale renewable sources. A kilowatt-hour is enough to run ten 100-watt light bulbs for an hour.
The subsidy will be available for generation that goes into operation during the next four years.
The government is budgeting $300 million for that period ““ enough to support projects with a total generating capacity of 4,000 megawatts.
However, once projects are approved, they’ll continue to receive aid for 10 years. So the total cost is estimated at $1.5 billion.
Less than 1 per cent of Canada’s electricity supply now comes from renewable energy. Once the 4,000 megawatts of new capacity is up and running, that will increase to about 5 per cent.
In its 2005 budget, the then-Liberal government launched two similar programs ““ one for wind power and the other for the remaining renewable sources.
Combined, they offered roughly the same initial amount of $300 million. But it was to cover up to 5,500 megawatts in capacity over five years.
In that plan, the total cost would have been $1.8 billion ““ or $300 million more than the Conservatives’ commitment.
A source familiar with the new program said yesterday it’s essentially the same as what the Liberals offered, but the delay has set back the project by months and caused uncertainty in the industry.
Sunday’s announcement at the National Home Show in Toronto, will revive and tinker with the Liberals’ EnerGuide for Houses program, which required an audit before and after energy-saving retrofits were done. Ottawa paid about half the cost of the audits as well as a portion of the retrofit cost.
Lunn will announce that the audit will no longer be subsidized, but coverage of the retrofit cost will be increased.
By Peter Gorrie
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