Ontario Reveals New FIT Structure

Ontario is putting its new feed-in tariff program out for public feedback — just in time for a RenewableEnergyWorld.com road trip to the region.

Last month the Ontario Power Authority (OPA) announced upcoming changes to the FIT program, including carving out large projects, adding enticements for municipalities, and adjusting domestic content provisions (thanks to the WTO’s ruling). Now the FIT 3 draft is ready for public viewing; feedback is being accepted until Sept. 20. The OPA’s Web site summarizes the changes both in summary and an in-line document comparison. Here they are in a nutshell:

  • The domestic content requirement has been lowered, to 20 percent for onshore wind (vs. 50 percent), and anywhere from 19-28 percent for several solar technologies, down from 60 percent in FIT 2.1.
  • Municipalities now are eligible to receive priority status, alongside public-sector entities — schools, hospitals, transit, etc.
  • Site access requirements now require a lease or title (or option to require them); no longer acceptable are memorandums-of-understanding (MOU) or letters-of-intent (LOI).
  • FIT and MicroFIT projects are now permitted on the same property, as long as the MicroFIT project is already operating — but aggregate capacity permitted on a single property has been reduced from 10 MW to 2 MW. That’s an encouragement to get larger projects (generally >e;500 kW) to participate in future competitive procurement processes specifically for large renewables. Also, the 500-kW renewable fuels cap now has an exception, allowing up to 2 MW of rooftop solar on a single property.
  • There’s a 15-MW procurement target for rooftop solar on unconstructed buildings (Unconstructed Rooftop Solar Pilot, or URSP) encompassing the land and building itself. Applicants must have 100 percent economic interest from a prioritized group (e.g., municipalities or public sector, community investor, or Aboriginal community), and projects that get a contract offer must execute it within 120 days. URSP projects also get screened first for connection capacity to encourage full allotment of the 15-MW procurement target.
  • Small FIT projects will connect only to a distribution system feeder, not directly to a transformer station or transmission station. (Another change that reflects the removal of larger projects.)

As it happens, I’ll be traveling to Ontario next week for a media tour hosted by the Ministry of Economic Development, Trade and Employment (MEDTE), showcasing renewable energy organizations and facilities from Toronto to Thunder Bay and beyond. Presentations on the agenda include grid flexibility, energy storage, and energy efficiency and LED lighting — and a briefing by the OPA. We’ll also be visiting a major biomass conversion project and wind manufacturing facility. I’ll be learning, and sharing, while I’m out there.

As of March 31, Ontario’s renewables projects in operation amounted to 2.93 GW (excluding hydro), with another 5.24 GW under development. Including hydro, the sector provided roughly 30 percent of Ontario’s 15.16 GW of total contract capacity. I’m anxious to hear what local leaders are doing to push that number higher, productively and responsibly.

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Jim is Contributing Editor for RenewableEnergyWorld.com, covering the solar and wind beats. He previously was associate editor for Solid State Technology and Photovoltaics World, and has covered semiconductor manufacturing and related industries, renewable energy and industrial lasers since 2003. His work has earned both internal awards and an Azbee Award from the American Society of Business Press Editors. Jim has 17 years of experience in producing websites and e-Newsletters in various technology markets.

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