In Focus: Ontario’s Feed-In Tariff Changes 0

ontario-fit

Since the province of Ontario’s municipal government passed its Green Energy Act in 2009, the world of clean energy has seen major changes — most notably, the rise and dramatic fall of solar hardware costs.

So it’s not surprising that the program is in need of updating, and that some of those updates will reduce the benefits to solar homeowners.

Last week, the government unveiled its proposed FIT 3.0 draft, which comes in response to two main factors: the aforementioned drop in solar costs, and a ruling by the World Trade Organization affecting Ontario’s requirement to include domestically produced materials in all renewable energy projects in the province.

Many of the changes in FIT 3.0 don’t apply to homeowners, but the top-line change is notable: The province will now pay 39.6¢ per kilowatt-hour of electricity generated by solar under its MicroFIT program, which covers rooftop solar installations of 10 kilowatts or less. That’s a big step down from the 54.9¢ per kwh it has paid since April 2012 — a 27.9 percent decrease.

Still, that price drop is lower than the drop facing larger installations: FIT payments for solar systems between 11 and 100 kilowatts are 37 percent lower under FIT 3.0, and installations larger than 100 kilowatts will get 39 percent less money per kwh generated.

Despite the price drop, there’s plenty of good that’s already come out of the Ontario policy — as a result of the FIT program, the province has become a solar hotspot. According to PV Magazine, Ontario is one of the top 10 solar jurisdictions in North America, and the largest solar generator in Canada.

One big change since 2009 is the dramatic rise in solar leasing and other creative financial options for rooftop solar. In California, for example, solar leases made up 75 percent of all solar installations in 2012. [Disclosure: SolarEnergy.net’s parent company, PURE Energies, is based in Ontario and works extensively with homeowners installing solar through the province’s FIT program.]

RenewableEnergyWorld has a brief rundown of the big changes in FIT 3.0, including the changes for municipalities and utilities; the provincial government has also laid out a summary of changes and a comparison of FIT rates between 2012 and 2013 [both PDF links].

There’s no doubt that FIT has been good for Ontario, and for Canadian solar; PV Magazine estimated that 3,000 people work in the province’s solar industry as of June. And in both 2010 and 2011, One Block Off the Grid ran a list of the top 10 countries using solar (2011 ranking here). Canada didn’t make the cut in either of those years, but at the province’s current output of 750 megawatts, Ontario alone would have ranked sixth in 2010 and just shy of eighth in 2011.

Not bad, especially for a country that is substantially Arctic in its geography. It goes to show you how far smart solar policy can go in boosting solar installations.

Solar flower photo (in Peel, ON) CC-licensed on Flickr by Pembina Institute.

Original Article on Cooler Planet

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