Earlier this week, Ontario’s Premier Dalton McGuinty ordered a review of the province’s feed-in tariff (FIT) program. Canada’s Solar Industry Association (CanSIA) said that it wants clear rules as to what to expect from the program in the future.
Speaking in support of an ongoing photovoltaic industry and installations in the Canadian province, McGuinty announced the review that will determine a new tariff program, given the falling price of photovoltaic installations.
Ontario’s FIT program, the Green Energy Act, was put in place in 2009 and CanSIA is happy to admit that photovoltaic prices have fallen considerably since that date. "We appreciate that the price pressures in solar has dropped over the last couple of years, since the FIT program was announced."
Speaking from Toronto, CanSIA Chair Jon Kieran told pv magazine that rather than fighting cuts to the FIT rates, the falling cost of solar is an indication of success. "This is a technology that is moving into the mainstream and the only way that it will become the de facto energy source in Ontario, in North America and throughout the world over the next several years is its increasing performance, increasing efficiency and falling costs."
The government review of the FIT will be open to public consultation until December 14, 2011. "CanSIA believes that the review process can address the problems at hand and that the review process will lead to a more satisfied customer base in Ontario," said Kieran.
Solar wins votes
Premier McGuinty was returned to power in Ontario in an October election, albeit at the head of a minority government. CanSIA’s Kieran argues that part of McGuinty’s electoral success stemmed from his continued support for solar.
"Any election is a mandate around several issues, however it is probably correct to say that the green energy act and the FIT program had a significant role in differentiating between the renewable energy policies of the parties."
The Ontario Sustainable Energy Association (OSEA) launched an advertising campaign in support of the Green Energy Act in September. CanSIA also campaigned in support of the Act in the lead up to the election and believed that these efforts made an impact at the ballot box.
Jobs are crucial to support
Crucial to this impact was the jobs created in the photovoltaic sector under the FIT and Act, argued Kieran. Support for candidates supportive of the FIT in electoral areas where solar industries have been established was noticeably higher, according to CanSIA.
From the government’s own figures, since 2009 over 20,000 jobs have been suggested in renewable energy industries and it forecasts that to grow to 50,000 by the end of 2012. More than 30 businesses have established manufacturing facilities for both the solar and wind industries in Ontario. A recent CanSIA study has found that approximately 10,000 jobs have been created in Ontario in photovoltaics alone.
Kieren notes that the FIT legislation is actually called the Green Energy and Economy Act and was clear in its aim to create "green collar" jobs along with encourage renewable energy generation. "I would conclude that the creation of those jobs is having a significant impact on people’s views of solar energy in being a technology and a market of the future."
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