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HYDRO FIX-UPS MAY SPARK BOOM
Ontario will see a historic investment in new power plants and transmission lines, Energy Minister Dwight Duncan says, but no one is making any promises about lower electricity rates.

Duncan says it could cost $40 billion to replace the province's coal-fired plants when they are shut down by the target of 2007 and to shore up ailing nuclear plants.

"We are looking at a massive investment of capital going forward.

"Suffice to say that it could well be one of the largest peace-time investments in the history of this country," Duncan told a news conference yesterday.

His announcement came a day after Ontario Power Generation reported a $491-million loss, wrote off the value of its coal-fired plants and released a damning audit of its operations.

The news set off alarm bells about energy costs and reliability because OPG controls about 80 per cent of energy production in the province.

But Duncan said his plan will head off massive rate increases and potential blackouts when the heavily-polluting coal plants -- which account for about 32 per cent of OPG's generating capacity -- are taken offline. Source.

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March 20, 2004