The Ontario Ministry of Energy officially launched its scheduled
review of the Feed-in Tariff program today. The review comes two
years into the FIT program and on the heels of a tight election in
which the future of the FIT program was a hotly debated issue. The
Ministry is seeking public input from today until December 14,
The FIT program has certainly produced a huge amount of interest
from the developer community. To date, the Ontario Power Authority
has awarded about 2,500 FIT contracts for medium- and large-scale
projects. In addition, about 11,000 microFIT (i.e., <10kW)
projects have already connected or will soon connect to the grid.
By virtue of its domestic content requirements, the FIT program has
also attracted several new renewable equipment manufacturers and
service providers to the province.
However, the FIT program has also been heavily criticized by
some, most notably Tim Hudak, leader of the provincial
Conservatives, whose advances in the recent election left the
incumbent Liberals one seat shy of another majority government.
Critics have expressed concerns about FIT pricing, which is higher
than that paid to legacy forms of generation, and about certain
special deals that the government made in connection with the FIT
program (especially the deal with the Samsung-led consortium).
The Ministry will therefore likely find itself in the position
of having to preserve and prolong the successes of the FIT while
addressing the demand of ratepayers to make material adjustments to
the program. In fact, the Ministry http://www.energy.gov.on.ca/en/fit-and-microfit-program/2-year-fit-review/
describes one of its goals as being 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."
In addition to changing pricing, the government may also face
pressure to narrow the scope of projects that are eligible for
tariffs. Some are calling for a return to a competitive bidding
process for large-scale projects.
Hopefully, the government will also be looking at ways to lower
some of the procedural barriers that have plagued developers. The
Ministry expressly states that it will be considering
"outreach techniques to complement the province's
Renewable Energy Approval (REA) process." More importantly, it
should give serious consideration as to how to ensure that the grid
accommodates new distributed renewable generation. The grid
operators, particularly Hydro One, have been very slow and
reluctant to connect FIT projects to their distribution and
Ontario's Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change continues to roll out its Climate Change Action Plan with its proposed GHG guide for projects that are subject to the province's Environmental Assessment Act.
The Imperial Oil refinery pled guilty to one offence for discharging a contaminant, coker stabilizer, thermocracked gas, into the natural environment causing an adverse effect and was fined $650,000...
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