Ontario announces new phase of green-energy push
*Deals will create enough energy to power 600,000 homes
*Government sees C$9 bln in investment, 20,000 jobs so far
TORONTO, April 8 (Reuters) - Ontario announced 184 contracts for green energy projects on Thursday that it says will lead to thousands of jobs and billions of dollars of investment in Canada's most populous province and top energy consumer.
When completed, the solar, wind, water and biofuel projects will power 600,000 homes, generating more than 2,500 megawatts of electricity, the provincial government said.
The contracts announced on Thursday are in addition to 510 "medium-sized" green projects already awarded by the government earlier this year.
"This is the big one," Brad Duguid, minister of energy and infrastructure, said of the latest announcement. "This is the 2,500 megawatts that's coming on line."
The two sets of projects will generate 20,000 direct and indirect green jobs and attract about C$9 billion ($8.9 billion) in private sector investment, as well as investment in new Ontario-based manufacturing, Duguid said.
Ontario plans to phase out all its coal-fired power stations by 2014 and replace them with cleaner energy sources.
Last October, it unveiled the most generous set of feed-in tariffs in North America to attract green energy projects and the manufacture of green energy equipment.
The incentives, part of the province's Green Energy Act, guarantee sellers of renewable power fixed, above-market prices for 20 years to feed their production into the electricity grid.
Some critics have complained that moving away from cheap coal power will add too much to the price of electricity.
"There is a higher cost to green energy," Duguid said in an interview. "It's not huge, but it's something that I think our generation is willing to accept because this gives us an opportunity to provide a cleaner environment and healthier lifestyle for our kids and grandkids and generate a green economy that is going to generate jobs for the future."
So far this year, two prominent green energy players -- South Korea's Samsung C&T Corp (000830.KS) and Germany's Bosch Solar Energy AG BSLRF.PK -- have said they will set up manufacturing facilities in the province, and the government said it expects more to follow. ($1=$1.01 Canadian) (Reporting by John McCrank; editing by Peter Galloway)