Here Comes Ontario’s FIT 2.0 !
The Ontario Feed-in Tariff Program is 2 years old and has undergone its first regularly scheduled review. The review was announced in October 2011 - at the same time documenting the unparelled success of the Program to date. FIT contracts have already been signed for over 4700 MW, while a further 6900 MW are in the pipeline awaiting connection capacity.
The review looked at the reductions in the cost of renewable power systems in Ontario since the FIT Program was introduced in 2009, and is recommending lower feed-in tariff rates for new contracts signed in 2012 to match these cost reductions. This is the way the feed-in tariff concept works. It is also adjusting some of the Program rules. These rule changes will favour community owned projects that are just starting to take off as renewable energy cooperatives and non-profit ownership groups are established.
The review report released on March 22, 2012can be viewed at http://www.energy.gov.on.ca/en/fit-and-microfit-program/2-year-fit-review/ and the draft rules for the new programs can be obtained from http://fit.powerauthority.on.ca/
These rule changes were the focus of the Ontario Sustainable Energy Association’s 3rd annual Community Power Conference held in Toronto November 14 and 15, 2011. Another key topic was the artificial “cap” of 12,000 MW that has been placed on new renewable power additions through government directives. This will only serve to limit green energy manufacturing in Ontario just when it is getting started. Right now, Ontario is leading North America.
The recent Ontario provincial election showed that the media and many consumers do not fully understand what feed- in tariffs are and how they work. Political parties were able use this to discredit the FIT Program. Several useful tools explaining feed-in tariffs were put together during and after the election. They could be used by those in other jurisdictions promoting feed-in tariffs. Here are a few of them:
The Ottawa Renewable Energy Coop has produced a list of Frequently Asked Questions about Feed-in Tariffs.
The Pembina Institute’s report “Behind the Switch- Pricing Ontario’s Electricity Options” shows that the Green Energy and Economy Act and its feed-in tariffs will have little impact on future electricty prices in Ontario.
“Maximizing Jobs from Clean Energy” from the Institute of Local Self Reliance shows that the “buy local” provisions in the Ontario FIT program could lead to 43,000 new jobs in the Province.
A report by Clear Sky Advisors for the Canadian Solar Industries Association “Economic Impacts of the Solar PV Sector 2008 – 2018” estimates the private sector investment, job creation, and consumer price impacts of solar PV under the the Ontario FIT Program.