The OPA recently approved 510 new green energy projects, most of which involve solar power. ((City of Toronto))

Alternative energy advocates are applauding a recent decision by the Ontario Power Authority to approve hundreds of new green energy projects.

The OPA said Wednesday that 510 projects have been approved in 120 communities across the province. Most of the new projects will be solar installations.

Peter Glover, director of marketing for Ottawa Solar Power, said the news is a "huge bonus" to the solar industry.

"It’s opening up the renewable energy technology industry dramatically in Ontario," Glover said. "What's been a very slow progression of interests and installations is suddenly ballooning."

The power produced by the new projects will be sold into the grid under the province’s feed-in-tariff program, which pays green energy producers a premium rate for the power they produce.

The program is part of the province’s Green Energy Act, which gained royal assent in May 2009. The province announced the program's regulations in September, and started accepting applications from aspiring power producers in October.

The new projects are the first "larger power generators" to win contracts through the program, the OPA said.

The approved projects range from 10 kilowatts to 500 kilowatts and have a total generating capacity of 112 megawatts — enough energy to power more than 13,000 homes , the OPA said.

'New source of income'

"These projects will create a new source of income while providing new clean and green electricity in Ontario — particularly on hot, sunny summer days when demand soars," Brad Duguid, the energy and infrastructure minister, said in a statement.

David Eisenbud, a spokesman for the Canadian Solar Industries Association, said he thinks the new projects will give the solar industry a boost and help create jobs in the province.

Among the projects approved was a plan from Loblaw Companies Limited. The OPA approved the grocery retailer's application to put rooftop solar installations on 136 of its stores.

The company plans to start with four trial projects at stores in Orleans, Ajax, Toronto and Whitby.

The OPA is responsible for ensuring the province has enough electricity to meet its needs.