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CanSIA says Ontario’s solar industry now more sustainable, transparent and predictable


July 11, 2012
By Anthony Capkun

July 11, 2012 – In a letter today to Canadian solar energy stakeholders, CanSIA president John Gorman (photo) says the Ontario minister of energy has issued a directive to Ontario Power Authority (OPA) to finalize the rules and contracts for the FIT 2.0 and microFIT 2.0 programs.

“Our members will note from the summary below that their input has had a direct, significant and positive impact on the finalization of the microFIT and FIT program requirements,” says Gorman.

Highlights

OPA is to make the following changes to the Draft FIT 2.0 Rules & Contracts:

• Begin to award 50 MW of microFIT and 200 MW of small FIT projects as soon as possible.

  • The microFIT rules/contract and application window will be available on OPA’s website this week.
  • The application window for small FIT will open at the same time as the rules/contract are posted. OPA is to complete this task before the end of the month.
  • OPA will provide further information on the timeline for the large FIT application window.

• The contract termination clause has been returned to the language used in the FIT 1.0 rules, and other financing concerns addressed.

• New Priority Points category: One point is now being offered for being in the queue before July 4, 2011, and 0.5 points for being in the queue since July 5, 2011. These Eligibility points can be added to existing Project Readiness Points, making a total of 2 points possible.

Specific to ground-mount projects

• The Ministry of Energy will organize a Working Group in which CanSIA will have a lead role to provide information and recommendations (e.g. set-backs) to accommodate ground-mount installations on residential/abutting residential/rural with zoned residential lands.

• FIT solar ground-mounted projects on CLI-mapped Class I, II, III lands that are contaminated or have a historical use that prevents the land from being used for agricultural production, will be allowed. The exemption list includes: airports; contaminated sites; industrial where energy is secondary use; closed landfills and military facilities. Development on Class III lands will also be allowed when a municipality owns the land or an approval is granted.

• Development on mixed soils permitted with soil study with no restriction on amount of Class I, II, III soils (provided you avoid these soils).

“CanSIA’s representations to decision-makers have directly contributed to these rule changes,” says Gorman. “Clearly the hard work has paid off and the FIT and microFIT programs have been improved for the benefit of the sector and the province as a whole. While these new rules do raise the bar for eligibility into the microFIT and FIT programs—and reduces the tariffs paid for facilities to be contracted—Ontario’s solar industry has been made more sustainable, transparent and predictable as a result.”