Today Bob Chiarelli, Minister of Energy announced several new renewable energy program changes and initiatives at the CanSIA Solar Ontario Conference aimed at municipal concerns.

The announcement gives us a better sense of how the Province intends to approach project siting differently, with greater local input and a focus on more willing communities.

For its part, AMO continues to press for programs that provide appropriate local input for communities willing to host these projects, while respecting the wishes of those who are not.

Broadly, the announcement has six key elements that impact municipalities, which reflect some of AMO’s recommendations on FIT 2.0 review:

  1. Changes to the siting of large renewable projects will require developers to work directly with municipalities to identify appropriate locations and site requirements for any future large renewable energy project.  The Province will move to a procurement model for these large projects.  We understand there will be consultations with municipalities this summer to formulate this process.  A crucial component will be determining how developers will work directly with municipalities before contracts are awarded. AMO is also seeking clarity on the tools available to communities who are unwilling to host large renewable energy projects.
  2. There is a dedicated municipal allocation for FIT.  The FIT program will be amended so that municipalities are eligible for priority points, have access to “soft costs” and are eligible for “set-asides” under the procurement target. 
  3. The property tax assessment on wind turbine towers will increase, although the amount has not yet been determined.  The Ministry of Energy has indicated that they will be working with municipalities on this matter as well.
  4. Small and medium municipalities will be eligible for funding for Municipal Energy Plans, which align infrastructure, energy and land use planning. These plans will focus on increasing conservation and helping to identify the best energy infrastructure options for a community.
  5. The Long Term Energy Plan for the Province is being revised based on regional consultation this summer.
  6. A pilot project for small FIT rooftop solar projects is intended to encourage buildings to be designed for rooftop solar installations.

We look forward to meaningful consultation and results on these initiatives and we will keep AMO members posted on any new developments and details as they become available.

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