November 3, 2009 - From the October, 2009 issue

Ontario, Canada, Implements Solar Feed-in Tariff

Legislation and policy meant to spur the development of solar power, especially roof-top, distributed solar power, have encountered opposition from central power interests. Feed-in tariffs have proven successful in scaling solar power in Europe but have failed so far to win approval in the United States. Ontario, Canada, which just adopted an aggressive green energy policy that includes a powerful feed-in tariff policy, may signal change. In the following TPR/MIR article, Chantal Ramsay, consul of economic affairs for Ontario, Canada explains why.


Chantal Ramsey

Ontario is positioning itself as a global leader in the green-energy revolution with the launch of a bold new program that will create thousands of jobs while establishing a favourable investment environment for energy producers.

Ontario's Feed-in Tariff program, the centrepiece of the province's new Green Energy Act, will create an estimated 50,000 green jobs over three years while enabling the introduction of renewable sources of energy.

The new rules not only provide incentives to help kick-start the greening of the economy, they will allow Ontario to achieve its commitment to eliminate coal-fired power by 2014-the single largest climate change initiative in North America.

The Feed-in Tariff, or FIT program, will enable consumers and companies to sell solar, wind, water, biomass, and other sources of renewable energy on to the grid. The most comprehensive program of its kind in North America, FIT will make it easier to get financing and access to the power grid. The program guarantees clean energy producers long-term prices and a reasonable rate of return on their investment in renewable projects.

The Ontario Power Authority, the agency that designed and oversees the FIT program, began accepting applications on Oct. 1.

"Ontario wants your green energy business. The doors are now wide open,'' said Colin Andersen, chief executive officer of the Ontario Power Authority, the government agency responsible for implementing the program.

"The FIT program will provide the kind of stability that both industry and individuals need to take advantage of the incredible opportunities now available in renewable energy in Ontario," Andersen added.

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The government also announced it is committed to creating green-collar jobs in Ontario. New rules will require that both wind and solar projects contain a certain percentage of Ontario labour and product content. Specifically, the rules stipulate a 25-per-cent requirement for wind projects and 50-per-cent for solar. Those requirements will increase for solar power in Jan. 2011, and for wind projects a year later.

To ease the development process, the Ontario government also launched a one-stop shop for renewable energy proponents. The Ontario Renewable Energy Facilitation Office is designed to streamline the process, and help get projects off the ground more quickly.

The Ontario government passed the Green Energy Act into law in May.

Ontario is not only breaking new ground in North America, it is quickly emerging as a global leader in renewable energy, modeling its policies after renewable energy powerhouses in Europe, such as Germany and in California

Since 2003, investments in renewable energy projects in the province exceed $4-billion (Canadian). Over the same period, Ontario has introduced more than 660 wind turbines, bringing the total to 670. It expects to have 975 turbines in operation by 2012. For more information: www.mei.gov.on.ca and www.fit.powerauthority.on.ca.

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