Ontario: Government committed to strengthening FIT program


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.