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Ontario government issues finalized FiT directive
The Ontario Minister of Energy has issued a directive to the Ontario Power Authority to finalize the details for the rules and contracts for the FiT 2.0 and microFiT 2.0 programs. The long process included broad consultation throughout the industry by the Ontario government in an effort to ensure a sustainable program.
The Canadian Solar Industries Association (CanSIA) believes this will have a significant and positive impact on the finalization of the microFiT and FiT program requirements.
Highlights of Changes
The Minister of Energy has directed the Ontario Power Authority (OPA) to make the following changes to the Draft FIT 2.0 rules and contracts:
The application window for 50MW of microFIT and 200MW of small FiT projects will open at the same time as the rules/contract are posted, which the OPA is aiming to start before the end of this month. The OPA will provide further information on the timeline for the large FiT application window at a later date.
The contract termination clause has been returned to the language used in the FiT 1.0 rules, and other financing concerns addressed.
A new ‘priority points’ category has been added where 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 now possible. This awards projects with a minimum equity participation from Aboriginal and local communities, public schools, colleges, universities, hospitals and long-term care facilities.
Specific to ground mount projects:
The Ministry of Energy will be organizing 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 if a municipality owns the land or an approval is granted.
Development on mixed soils will be permitted with soil study with no restriction on the amount of Class I, II, III soils provided you avoid these soils.
CanSIA states, “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.”