Ontario cancels solar rebates program two months after its launch

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Since last week, visitors to the website, GreenOn – the official site for Ontario’s renewable energy and energy efficiency program – have been confronted with the short, but very clear, message: “The following programs are closed:”. The announcement affects all of the program’s schemes, including the $70 million Solar Rebates Program, which was launched by the Ontarian government in early May.

According to the website, rebates will only be honoured if: (i) there is a signed work agreement with a participating contractor for work that will be completed by August 31, 2018; or (ii) a rebate application is submitted by September 30, 2018.

The decision to shut-down the program was taken by the leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario and the premier-designate of the Canadian province, Doug Ford, who did not provide any explanation or warning.

The Green Party of Ontario has reacted vehemently against Ford’s decision, stating that it will compromise already made investments. “I’ve already received emails and calls from business owners angry that Ford’s reckless actions will force them to fire staff and lose money,” said Green Party Leader, Mike Schreiner.

The Green Party further stressed that the cancellation of the scheme, which had an overall budget of $283.5 million, was not initially a part of Ford’s official plan to scrap pollution pricing, and that the move “comes before his cabinet has even been announced.”

Rebates are traditionally a very effective tool to support the installation of a residential or commercial PV system during the transition phase from FITs to net metering, as is the case in Ontario. Their elimination will undoubtedly slow down this market segment, at least over the coming months.

Under the rebate scheme, residential PV projects up to 10 kW were eligible to receive a rebate of CA$1 (US$0.77) per W installed, while the purchase and installation of a storage system was to be supported through a rebate of CA$370 ($287.9) per kWh. As for commercial PV up to 500 kW, it was supposed to be awarded a rebate of CA$0.75 ($0.58) per W installed.

Prior to the launch of the new rules for net metering and the rebate scheme, Ontario’s government had provided incentives to residential and commercial PV through the FIT 4 Program, which concluded in July 2016.