Ontario to amend solar domestic content legislation

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Ontario government sources have revealed Ontario is preparing amendments to its solar domestic content legislation to comply with a World Trade Organization ruling by early next year.

During a speech to delegates of During Solar Ontario organised by the Canadian Solar Association (CanSIA), Ontario’s energy minister Bob Chiarelli announced plans to procure 900MW of solar over the next four years.

Last year, Japan and the European Union launched a complaint with the WTO that the Canadian's province's policy that 60% of a solar or wind projects’ equipment or services must be locally sourced unfairly discriminated against outside companies. The WTO ruled that Ontario is required to bring its domestic content policy in line with the Agreement on Trade Related Investment Measures and General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade 1994.

Chiarelli said he intends to revise the regulations of Ontario’s feed-in tariff (FiT) programme and better meet the needs of communities.

“Ontario is committed to building clean, reliable energy to support our families, businesses, schools and hospitals. It’s also clear that we need to make changes to increase local control over the siting of renewable energy projects. These changes will give communities and municipalities a stronger voice, more options and new tools when it comes to renewable energy,” said Chiarelli.

The changes include:

Small and microFiT
Effective immediately, an additional 70MW of small FiT (projects 10-500kW) and 30MW of microFiT (projects 10kW or less) are to be procured and for the following four years procurement targets will be set for 150MW for small FiT and 50MW for microFiT.

Large FIT
Large FiT projects are expected to fall under some competitive procurement programme being assessed as part of the Long Term Energy Plan taking place this summer.

A summer pilot programme
The OPA will be asked to proceed this summer with a pilot programme for small FiT rooftop solar projects on unconstructed buildings, encouraging buildings to be designed to be easily adapted to rooftop solar installations.

Creating willing hosts
Part of the plan is to afford municipalities the same treatment as communities through priority points – such as co-operatives – in the FiT program. To facilitate this process, municipalities will have access to funding for the soft costs associated with the development and design of community renewable energy projects.

“We are encouraged by the direction the minister is taking regarding solar energy. This sends an important signal to the market which will allow it to build needed generation and encourage investment supporting the jobs that have been created in the province,” said CanSIA president John Gorman. “It is a good example of how government and industry collaboration can benefit all Ontarians. We will continue to provide the government with industry input as it works to refresh its Long-Term Energy Plan.”

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