Ontario, Korean consortium strike green-manufacturing deal

The landmark agreement between the Ontario government and a South Korean consortium is expected to create more than 16,000 new jobs over the next six years, but only a number of them will be permanent.

Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty announced details of the new green-energy deal during a news conference Thursday at the Toronto Stock Exchange tower.

The consortium, which comprises Samsung C&T Corporation, the Korea Electric Power Corporation and their manufacturing partners, is worth $7-billion and promises to harness 2,500 megawatts of wind and solar power.

“We’re doing more than just creating jobs, although creating jobs is very important,” McGuinty said. “We’re trying to lay the foundation here for new economic growth in Ontario. We’re not going to make it by pulling gas and oil out of the Earth.”

Under the deal, the South Korean consortium will be paid 13.5 cents per kilowatt hour of wind power and 44.3 cents for each kWh of solar power.

In addition to these standard ‘Feed-In-Tariff‘ prices, the province has sweetened the deal with an ‘Economic Development Adder’ tied to the creation of four manufacturing facilities which, when up and running, would bring 1,440 long-term manufacturing jobs for the province.

The total cost of the EDA, over the 25-year life of the deal, is estimated at $437 million. This will add about $1.60 annually to a residential electricity bill, which equates to about 0.1 to 0.15 per cent increase.

Progressive Conservative energy critic John Yakabuski said Ontarians will be paying for this deal for a long time to come.

“About 1,400 of the jobs could be permanent.” Yakabuski said. “The rest are just part short-term jobs involving construction at a very, very high subsidized cost of electricity, 13.5 cents, that consumers and businesses are going to be taking it on the chin.”

Yakabuski said another point of contention is the project was never put up for public bidding: “It offered no opportunity for Canadian or Ontario based companies to be involved in the process.”

Premier McGuinty assured that the EDA will only be paid if the facilities are fully operational on time.

The first two plants to build wind towers and solar inverters must be operational by March 31, 2013. They will be built in Chatham-Kent and Haldimand County in south-western Ontario.

The place to build the two remaining plants is still a matter of discussion. One will be a solar module assembly, and the other will make wind blades. They have to be operational by Dec. 31, 2013 and Dec. 31, 2015 respectively.

“This is about building the industry for the future,” McGuinty said. “The reason that we are taking this giant step forward today, the reason that Samsung approached us in the first instance, is because of Ontario’s Green Energy Act.

“Our Green Energy Act is the best of its kind, best in class in North America, and is doing what it’s supposed to do. It’s making Ontario the place to be for the green economy, the place to be for green energy jobs,” the premier said.

This single-largest investment in renewable energy is set to triple Ontario’s renewable energy output