TORONTO, March 12 /CNW/ - Ontario is poised to introduce new electricity pricing to encourage the development of renewable energy from a diverse range of producers including homeowners, community-based groups and larger scale commercial generators. As North America's first guaranteed pricing structure - called a feed-in tariff (FIT) - for various forms of electricity production, it would offer a stable, competitive price combined with a long term contract. A FIT would establish prices for energy generated from renewable sources, including on-shore and off-shore wind, hydroelectric, solar, biogas, biomass and landfill gas. Proposed prices and program guidelines announced today will form the basis of an eight-week consultation process with renewable energy stakeholders and several general information sessions for the interested public. "The proposed feed-in tariff program would help spark new investment in renewable energy generation and create a new generation of green jobs," said George Smitherman, Deputy Premier and Minister of Energy and Infrastructure. "It would give communities and homeowners the power and tools they need to participate in the energy business in the new green economy." "Ontario has made great progress in procuring renewables, becoming Canada's leading province for wind power," added Colin Andersen, CEO of the Ontario Power Authority. "This proposed FIT program would build on our success and ensure that more contracts turn into projects sooner." The proposed Green Energy Act (GEA), if passed, would establish Ontario as North America's leader in renewable energy, drive green investment in the province and create 50,000 jobs in the first three years. Additional changes proposed under the GEA would also make it easier and faster for projects to get connected to the grid. Other countries - particularly Germany, Spain and Denmark - have successfully used FITs to encourage the development of renewable energy projects. The proposed FIT prices were developed based on experience here in Ontario and in other jurisdictions. Prices differ based on project size and type of renewable energy technology. They cover capital, operating and maintenance costs and allow for a reasonable rate of return on investment over an approximate 20-year period. They also provide special categories for community based projects. To view chart, please go to http://files.newswire.ca/792/OEB1.jpg Solar micro-generation, 10 kilowatts and under, will enjoy the highest tariff in order to incent Ontarians to participate. If the proposed FIT program leads to 100,000 residential solar rooftop installations, it will amount to one percent of Ontario's supply mix. The OPA will begin consulting with renewable energy stakeholders on the proposed design of a FIT program, including eligibility criteria and proposed pricing next week. Weekly sessions run from March 17 to May 5, 2009.