Following on the heels of a report that found Ontario’s Feed-In Tariff scheme wasn’t working as planned, the province has decided to replace the existing large project category of its Feed-In Tariff program with a competitive procurement process for renewable projects over 500 kW.
The earlier report by the Institute of Local Self Reliance found that Hydro One, the province’s largest utility, has been a major roadblock to progress via FIT. Moving forward, the province intends to work with the Ontario Power Authority (OPA) and municipalities. Ontario will require energy planners and developers to work directly with municipalities to identify appropriate locations and site requirements for any future large renewable energy projects.
To further strengthen municipal participation, Ontario will:
- Revise the small FIT program rules for projects between 10 and 500 kW to give priority to projects partnered or led by municipalities.
- Work with municipalities to determine a property tax rate increase for wind turbine towers.
- Provide funding to help small and medium-sized municipalities develop municipal energy plans, which will focus on increasing conservation and help to identify the best energy infrastructure options for a community.
For smaller renewable energy projects, Ontario is making 900 MW of new capacity available between now and 2018 for the Small FIT and microFIT programs. This fall, OPA will open a new procurement window for both programs, offering 70 MW for Small FIT and 30 MW for microFIT. Starting in 2014, annual procurement targets will be set at 150 MW for Small FIT and 50 MW for microFIT.
Ontario recently asked the Independent Electricity System Operator and the OPA to consult on the development of Regional Energy Plans to ensure that Ontario gets siting decisions right.
The US Energy Information Administration last week published data that finds in general US utilities and consumers prefer net metering to Feed-In Tariffs, but there are some FIT programs in the country.