Ontario publishes first round of FiT review

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Canadian deputy minister Fareed Amin sent an update on Ontario’s two-year review of its FiT program, announced in October 2011, to the ministry of energy. The changes to Ontario’s renewable energy scheme include a 20% cut to the FiT for solar and a 15% cut to wind power. All other renewables will remain at the current level. Tariffs will be adjusted annually each November and will take effect on January 1 the following year, inline with market conditions. Prices ill be set once a contract is offered rather than when a project application has been sent to the relevant department.

Other amendments include:

• Providing a greater opportunity for Aboriginal and community involvement with local renewable projects
• Working with the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) to revise municipality consultation process
• Strengthening renewable energy targets – a goal of 10,700MW of renewable energy has been set for 2018 to 2015

The report was produced by contributions from more than 2,900 individuals and organizations. 80 meetings with associations, municipalities, community groups and companies also took place. Additionally, 1,700 people participated in a webinar. The WWF was one of these groups. Its director Josh Laughren said, “Ontario's energy transition has been the most significant single carbon emissions reduction program in North America. Ending our dependence on coal is one of the significant actions that a province can take to address climate change. Renewable energy success will require the support of communities, which the Ontario Government has recognized and begun to address.”

The Green Energy and Green Economy Act 2009 is claimed to have introduced the first FiT in North America. The government insists the subsidy system has created thousands of direct and indirect clean energy jobs. The state of Ontario is expected to generate 4,600MW, in addition to 2,500MW through the Green Energy Investment Agreement each year. Private sector investment has put over CAN$20 billion into the economy. The government also states that last year, wind and solar alone produced more electricity than coal in Ontario.

The two-year review of the FIT Program had a mandate to consider a range of issues including:

• Reducing FIT prices
• Ensuring the long-term viability of clean energy procurement
• Continuing to build on the success of Ontario-based manufacturing and clean energy job creation
• Improving local consultation and renewable energy environmental approval processes
• Developing new technologies and fuel sources

The review is being completed with the expectation the ministry of economic development and innovation and the ministry of energy will use it to produce a clean energy economic development strategy. It should include details on financial support, to sustain domestic aid and consider partnerships between the government and aboriginal communities. It is also hoped the current FiT program will be expanded to incorporate a net-metering system.

However, Ontarians have already come under pressure from the EU and Japan to make their tariffs more globally competitive although this report does emphasize its extremely pro-domestic stance.

The full report can be found here.

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