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Liberal Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli, shown, April 15, 2013.MATTHEW SHERWOOD/The Canadian Press

Ontario is challenging software developers to create new apps to help residents monitor their electricity use, conserve energy and save money.

The Energy Apps for Ontario Challenge is offering $50,000 to support the best new apps that use electricity data collected by smart meters.

More than 4.7 million homes and small businesses in Ontario are connected to smart meters, which collect extensive data about energy usage.

App developers will have access to the data collected on the smart grid and consumers will be able to authorize secure transfers of their own information for use on their tablets and smartphones.

The challenge was announced Tuesday by Minister of Energy Bob Chiarelli at Ryerson University's Digitial Media Zone in Toronto.

Chiarelli says the apps will empower Ontario consumers and help them slash their energy bills.