11/02/2011

The Ministry of Energy and the OPA launched its scheduled review of the Feed-In Tariff (FIT) Program and the MicroFit Program. The review examined program rules and pricing.

The Ministry of Energy and the Ontario Power Authority (OPA) has launched its scheduled review of the Feed-In Tariff (FIT) Program and the MicroFit Program. Open until December 14, 2011, the review will examine program rules and pricing to ensure the program remains successful and sustainable.

The province’s Green Energy Act and FIT program was launched in 2009 to:

  • Make it easier and more efficient to bring renewable energy projects of all sizes online.
  • Stimulate the economy and create jobs, making Ontario a clean energy leader.
  • Help replace dirty coal-fired plants with cleaner sources of renewable energy, cleaning up the air, protecting the health of Ontarians and reducing the province’s environmental footprint.

The review is intended to address a range of FIT program considerations. Considerations include, but are not limited to the following:

  • A careful examination of FIT pricing to maintain a balance between the interests of ratepayers and the continued encouragement of clean energy investment in Ontario.
  • Potential inclusion of new and emerging technology types.
  • Assessment of government policies and tools to ensure that Ontario remains a center of manufacturing excellence and clean energy job creation.
  • Consideration of outreach techniques to complement the province’s Renewable Energy Approval (REA) process.
  • Alignment with the Regulatory process
  • Participation and Eligibility

According to the OPA, new FIT applications will continue to be accepted and time-stamped, but they will not be processed until the new version of the Program Rules and pricing schedule are available. They will then be subject to the new FIT Rules and pricing schedule. Existing FIT applications (those that were submitted prior to the announcement of the FIT Program review on October 31 and have not yet received a contract) will be processed under the new FIT Rules and pricing schedule once the FIT Program review is complete.

AMO has a number of concerns with the regulatory approval process for renewable energy projects and some specific issues with the FIT and MicroFit Projects as outlined below:

  • Applications trapped in the OPA queue will be subject to new rules and pricing whereas they were put forward on the basis of business cases using the existing pricing.
  • Status of Municipal Renewable Energy Program (MREP) which was announced on September 23, 2009, but has yet to be implemented
  • Lack of a community "adder" for municipalities unlike community and aboriginal groups which can benefit from an increase of between 0.4 to 1.5 ¢/kWh to the FIT tariffs depending on the type of generation.
  • Municipal water reservoirs are currently deemed ground-mount applications for solar PV instead of recognizing these facilities as having a roof-top.
  • Ineligibility for Community Energy Partnerships Program funding. Most medium and small municipalities lack expertise and capacity and could benefit from outside support.
  • Unintended loopholes have emerged in the existing Renewable Energy Project Approval Process. For example, a number of ground-mount projects have been developed on vacant lots in existing subdivisions as well as on lots freshly subdivided only for the purpose of qualifying for a microFIT contract. Similar situations have arisen in small communities on employment designated lands—eroding the availability of adequate employment lands and contravening the requirements of the Provincial Policy Statement (PPS) which requires that 20 year employment capacity be maintained.