Ontario: Government committed to strengthening FIT program

26. November 2012 | Markets & Trends, Industry & Suppliers | By:  Shamsiah Ali-Oettinger

The Ontario Minister of Energy Chris Bentley has issued a Directive to the Ontario Power Authority to finalise the FIT program.

Bentley states that he is prepared to make some adjustments to the FIT rules.

Bentley wrote, "The government is commited to strengthening the FIT program to ensure the long term sustainability of renewable energy while creating and sustaining green energy jobs in the province". The OPA is directed by the Minister to continue the FIT and microFIT programs developed pursuant to the direction issued September 24, 2009 and amended by the April 5 and July 11, 2012 directions.

The OPA is directed to open the Small FIT application window as soon as possible and to follow through with awarding 200 MW of projects. Furthermore the OPA is also to work on developing program rules and contract as soon as possible in 2013 for a pilot program for applicants with un-constructed buildings wishing to apply for small FIT rooftop solar contracts.

The Canadian Solar Industries Association or CanSIA states that with regards to the revised provisions for ground-mounted solar FIT projects, "it is evident from the Directive that CanSIA’s input was valued and that the extensive consultations with both the industry and municipalities has resulted in improvements to land use rules. The set-backs and visual screening measurers applicable to projects built in proximity to residential properties are now in keeping with practices in use by municipalities for general development".

Stronger community and aboriginal participation
In the letter to the OPA, the Energy Minister also highlights strengthening community and aboriginal participation stating, "The contract capacity set-aside in the April 5,2012 Direction for projects with greater than 50% community or Aboriginal equity participation shall be up to 100MW, and be equally divided between community equity participation projects (50MW) and Aboriginal equity participation (50MW)". Half of each of that 50% will be apportioned for the initial small FIT window and the other half for the large FIT window.

The Minister also highlights the relaunch of the Community Energy Partnerships Program (CEPP) and the Aboriginal Renewable Energy Fund (AREF) stating that the OPA shall cap the total program year funding available for activities provided through CEPP and AREF to $500,000 respectively.

The Ontario government has stated that it engaged in a long process which included broad consultation throughout the industry in a bid to build a sustainable program and a sustainable solar industry. The implications of the Directive are to be discussed by experts and industry leaders at the Solar Canada 2012 that will take place early December.


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Dave Watts from Pickering

Tuesday, 27.11.2012 14:53

Talk - Action = 0

Andrew Hill Highland Solar

Monday, 26.11.2012 22:47

Sorry, One line in my previous comment should read "This is the same organisation that has taken SINCE November 2011

Andrew Hill Highland Solar from Newmarket, Ontario, Canada | http://www.highlandsolar.ca

Monday, 26.11.2012 17:04

The (now disgraced) Minister's directive to the Ontario Power Authority to act "as soon as possible" is no great cause for celebration; based off of the historical lack of urgency in accomplishing Government Directives shown by this Crown Corporation.
Let us not forget, this is the same organisation that consistently 'missed' promise dates during the initial Feed-in-Tariff review, without excuse or explaination. This is the same organisation that took from November 1st 2011 until mid-August 2012 to even allow the Micro-FiT portion of the programme to re-open. This is the same organisation that has taken SINCE November 2012 to work on rule reviews for the small and large FiT portion of the programme WHICH IS STILL NOT RE-OPENED MORE THAN 12 MONTHS LATER!
This is the same organisation that, because they are 'mandated' to review pricing, is currently reviewing the feed-in-tariff rates of all tranches, despite the fact 2/3s of the programme has been laid idle by their inaction for over a year!
Had this programme, and its review been a "private sector" operation, I will guarantee you that A) deadlines and promise dates would have been kept; B) heads would have rolled if they weren't and C) the renewable energy industry in Ontario would have had a fantastic year rather than scrabbled about trying to survive.
Because there appears to be this culture lacking accountability at the Ontario Power Authority, I shall not celebrate the Minister's 'directive'; nor shall he receive a pat on the back...he is as culpable as the O.P.A. in letting down an industry that should be a shining star in Ontario.

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