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Ontario Slashes FiT for Solar, Wind

Ontario's Feed-in Tariff, which has been under constant and considerable pressure from conservative party legislators, received significant cuts Thursday as part of its first review.

Enacted in 2009, the generous tariffs are credited with spurring exponential growth in the Ontario province, and the wind industry has been the major beneficiary. Ontario has more than 1,750 MW of installed wind power and plans to reach 7,500 MW by 2018. As of 2011, Ontario had more than 200 MW of solar online, and it had done much to draw the interest of international players eager to tap into the fertile market.

According to the Ontario government, the landmark Green Energy Act has leveraged more than $27 billion in new investment and economic opportunities. It also has created 20,000 clean energy jobs.

But growing angst over the cost of electricity and the steep decline of equipment prices in solar and wind prompted the steep cuts, which reduces prices it pays for solar by more than 20 percent and wind by about 15 percent. Prices for hydro, biogas, biomass and landfill gas projects are unchanged. The new rates will be adjusted annually to reflect current prices.

But the announcement does offer opportunities to speed up the approval process by as much as 25 percent, to expand the money set aside for local and aboriginal communities and it calls for new strategies for other sectors of the clean energy economy, such as smart grid technologies.

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