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The Ontario government plans to boost green power in the province by up to 1,000 megawatts -- enough electricity for 200,000 homes -- as part of its hunt for alternative energy sources.

The government announced last week it is seeking proposals to increase the province's supply of renewable energy as opposition members criticized its plan to close its coal-fired generators before lining up enough replacement sources of power.

Energy Minister Dwight Duncan said the successful bidders will help the government reach its target of generating 5 percent of Ontario's total energy capacity from renewable sources by 2007 and 10 percent by 2010.

The government plans to close all five of the province's coal-fired generation plants by the end of 2007. The plants produce about 7,500 megawatts of power, one-quarter of the province's energy supply.

"Finding clean, affordable and sustainable sources of electricity is a top priority for our government, especially as the entire country seeks to reduce its greenhouse-gas emissions," Duncan told reporters.

"Green power means clean power, and clean power means better quality of air for Ontarians to breathe."

The minister unveiled the plan at Ontario Place against a backdrop of the first urban-based wind turbine in North America. The 30-story wind turbine, a joint venture between Toronto Hydro Energy Services and the WindShare Co-operative, can power up to 300 homes.

The government released a request for proposals for up to 1,000 megawatts of power last week.

Potential bidders have until August to submit proposals for wind, water, solar, biomass and landfill-gas projects that have a capacity of 20 megawatts or more.

Progressive Conservative member John O'Toole said in the legislature that there is nothing in the announcement that gives him any assurance the province will have reliable and affordable power by the end of 2007.

"I'll remind you that the previous (Tory) government had done nothing to create any new generation in Ontario in their entire eight years in power, not a thing," Duncan said.

"We were left with an absolute mess."

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