Ontario offers 150 MW of small-scale renewables under FIT round

Ontario’s Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) has offered contracts for 150 MW of distributed-generation renewables capacity in the final round of the FIT program, which is commonly known as FIT 5.

The IESO said that solar had the largest share, with PV developers securing 382 of the 390 assigned contracts. The remaining contacts were offered to seven on-farm biogas projects and one municipal landfill gas project. Most of the selected PV power projects have a capacity of 500 kW, which was the size limit imposed by the procurement process.

“These FIT 5 contract offers come from a broad cross-section of Ontarians, including indigenous communities, community groups, municipalities, farmers and small businesses,” said JoAnne Butler, the IESO’s Vice-President of Market and Resource Development.

According to the IESO, 144 assigned contracts, or 57.8 MW of capacity, are related to projects with indigenous participation, while projects with community participation have a combined capacity of 33.2 MW. The authority has also selected 94 projects, or 35.6 MW of capacity, with municipal or public sector participation.

IESO stressed that the bidding round offered a bid-down price option, where applicants could earn priority points by offering a price lower than the standard price schedule. More than 86% of applicants applied for price reductions, it said.

Under FIT 4 program, which was concluded in July 2016, the IESO awarded long-term contracts to 241 MW of renewable energy projects, including 232 MW of solar projects.

Projects ranging from 10-500 kW in capacity are eligible for the program, which IESO describes as a FIT. Ontario has three programs for renewable energy procurement: The Large Renewables Procurement (LRP), an auction system for projects above 500 kW, the MicroFIT, which resembles a European FIT and is restricted to projects below 10 kW, and the regular FIT, which appears to be a hybrid of the two.

Ontario is also supporting renewable energy distributed generation through net metering, for which new rules were introduced in July of this year. The most relevant aspect of the new rules is the elimination of ceiling of 500 kW for solar and renewable energy power projects installed under the scheme. The new rules will also allow power system owners to use storage systems when paired with renewable energy generation.