Alliance for Renewable Energy

Friday, July 18, 2014

Re-election of Liberal Government means stability for Ontario FIT Programs

On June 12, Ontarians re-elected the Liberal Party government led by new premier Kathleen Wynne – this time with a full majority (more seats than all other parties combined). This means that the provinces two current Feed-in Tariff Programs – MicroFIT for small projects 10 kW and under and FIT for projects up to 500 kW – will be run for another four years, bringing much needed stability particularly to the solar PV energy market.

Under its Long Term Energy Plan (LTEP) released in December 2013, the government has committed to procure 900 MW of new renewable power through the FIT programs by 2018. Procurement under the FIT program will be 150 MW per year and 50 MW per year for MicroFIT. Announcement of the 2014 FIT contract offers is expected before the end of July. As in the previous years, community owned projects will be given priority.

In addition to the FIT programs, the government has committed to procure 280 MW of larger solar, wind, bioenergy, and hydro projects through competitive bidding processes.  Finally, there is a pledge to consider raising the current targets for renewable energy beyond the 12 GW set in the LTEP, although this would depend on a decision not to re-furbish some of the Provinces aging nuclear capacity. The estimated cost of these re-furbishments is increasing and there is mounting pressure to increase renewable targets and purchase hydro power from Quebec instead.

In the three years since the FIT Programs started under the 2009 Green Energy Act, Ontario has attracted more than $27 billion in private sector investment in close to 10,000 MW of renewable power and 30 clean energy companies. This investment has resulted in more than 20,000 jobs. The programs have driven down costs significantly as can be seen by comparing current the 2014 FIT 3.0 tariffs for solar PV with those in the first round.

Solar Rooftop PV System FIT 1.0Cents/kWh FIT 2.xCents/kWh FIT 3.0Cents/kWh
MicroFIT systems < 10 kW roof 80.2 54.9 39.6
FIT systems 10-100 kW 54.8 34.5
FIT systems 10-250 kW 71.3
FIT systems 100-500 kW 53.9 32.9
FIT systems 250-500 kW 63.5

While the current FIT programs are a far cry from the long term comprehensive feed-in tariff procurement process promised in 2010, Ontarians can breath a sigh of relief and look forward to steady increase in renewable power capacity in the coming years.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Status of FIT Legislation in Each Province

Ontario and Nova Scotia are the only Provinces that have FIT legislation and an operating FIT program. British Columbia recently held a consultation on feed-in tariffs but no legislation or program is planned. New Brunswick has a special tariff for renewable power projects but it is not a true feed-in tariff as it is not based on providing a reasonable rate of return for investors. Several other provinces have net metering legislation.

The Ontario FIT program has been in place for 3 years. It is the only state or province in North America with a full program that guarantees cost based tariffs and grid access for all sizes and types of renewable power generators. Nova Scotia’s Community Feed-in Tariff (CMOFIT) program for community owned wind, biomass, hydro and tidal power projects began operation in the fall of 2011.

Ontario

Nova Scotia

 

Ontario

Ontario Power System: The generation and distribution of electric power in Ontario is regulated by the Ontario Energy Board and managed by an Independent System Operator. Transmission and rural distribution is run by Hydro One. Other distribution is operated by a series of private or municipal owned Local Distribution Utilities.

The Government of Ontario officially launched its Feed-in Tariff (FIT) Program – the most comprehensive of its kind in the Americas – in 2009. The Ontario FIT and Micro-FIT (for systems <10kW) programs are operated by the Ontario Power Authority and give priority grid access to renewable sources of power and set fixed tariffs under 20 year contracts. The FIT Programs allows any renewable power system, from the smallest household solar system to large wind farms, to connect to the grid and be paid tariffs that provide a reasonable return on investment.

By the end of 2011, contracts for over 4750 MW of new renewable power had been offered with a further 16,000 MW of applications pending. Of the contracts offered, 3165 MW are wind, 1332 MW solar, 193 MW hydro, and 63 MW bio-energy. These contracts have already leveraged over $10 billion in private investment and resulted in significant new solar and wind manufacturing capacity and hundreds of new jobs in Ontario. The program has been so successful that increasing grid capacity has become a major factor in rate of deployment of new renewable power systems.

The FIT and MicroFIT programs underwent their first scheduled review in late 2011. The review report released on March 22, 2012 can be viewed at http://www.energy.gov.on.ca/en/fit-and-microfit-program/2-year-fit-review/ and the draft rules for the new programs can be obtained fromhttp://fit.powerauthority.on.ca/

The proposed new rates reflect the lower cost of solar and wind systems – a sign of success of the
program to date.

  Screen Shot 2012-04-17 at 4.18.21 PM

The proposed new Program rules also give priority to community or First Nation owned projects, and those on health care and municipal facilities. An “adder” of up 1.5 cent/kWh will continue to be paid for community and First Nations projects and a premium paid for biomass and hydro projects that deliver power during peak periods. Community power projects will also continue to be eligible for project development grants under the Community Energy Partnership Program.

For initial reviews of the new FIT Program rates and rules check out the following:
http://www.wind-works.org/FeedLaws/Canada/OntarioFITReviewReleasedBoldProgramtoContinue.html

http://www.cleanbreak.ca/2012/03/22/my-quick-review-of-ontarios-much-anticipated-fit-review/

Participation in the FIT program requires the payment of a registration fee and application security. Projects that require additional grid capacity are required to meet transmission/distribution availability and economic connection tests. All these requirements are waived for MicroFIT projects less than 10 kW. Both FIT and MicroFIT projects must meet Ontario domestic content requirements.

In addition to the FIT Program, Ontario is making major new transmission investment for grid expansions to accommodate increased renewable energy deployment.

The introduction of feed-in tariffs and guaranteed access for renewable power sources represents a complete change in the way power will be provided to Ontarians in the 21st century. Up until now, renewable power sources had to be integrated into an existing grid. From now on, a new Ontario grid will be built around these renewable power sources.

Nova Scotia

Electric Power System: Nova Scotia Power provides 95% of the generation, transmission and distribution of electricity in the province.

Nova Scotia has become the second Canadian province after Ontario to adopt Feed-inTariffs. The Province unveiled its new Renewable Electricity Plan on April 23, 2010.The plan outlines an “orderly transition to new, local, renewable energy sources” with aggressive new targets of 25% by 2015 and a goal of 40% by 2020. In 2011, Nova Scotia set a feed in tariff specific to communities, the COMFIT. For more information visit:http://nsrenewables.ca/feed-tariffs.

Separate COMFIT rates are set for wind projects above 50 kW, wind projects 50 kW and below, run-of-the-river hydro, in-stream tidal (below 0.5MW), and biomass combined heat and power. Projects must be connected to the distribution grid and be less than the minimum load in its respective distribution sub-stationed. As a result, maximum renewable power generation in each zone is 1 to 5 MW. Ownership of the projects has to be at least 50% community ownership. Those groups eligible for the COMFIT program has been limited to one or a combination of:

  • a university;
  • a municipality or a wholly owned subsidiary of a municipality;
  • a Mi’kmaw band council;
  • a co-operative or not-for-profit of which a majority of members reside in the Province and at least 25 members reside in the municipality where the generation facility is located; or
  • a community economic-development corporation of which at least 25 shareholders or members reside in the municipality where the generation facility is located. (Nova Scotia Electricity Act, c. 25, s. 20, 2010).

An exception exists for biomass combined heat and power projects for which any entity that demonstrate a use for the heat, known as a ‘steam host,’ is eligible for the COMFIT.A program review has been scheduled for late 2012.

A FIT for tidal projects above 0.5 MW has been legislated and will be established shortly.

600 MW of new large scale renewable power projects will still be procured using a bidding process.

Many observers have congratulated Nova Scotia on the introduction of feed-in tariffs and for the leadership and example that this provides to other smaller provinces. Others are disappointed that feed-in tariffs will not be used for all renewable power procurement as they are in Europe and Ontario. Individuals and businesses wanting to invest in renewable power projects are offered only “enhanced net metering” – payment for power produced at the same price as they pay for power used. The absence of solar from COMFIT effectively rules out investment in solar photovoltaic power systems in Nova Scotia.

Farmer developed projects are also not currently defined as ”community” projects and are therefore also not eligible for the feed-in tariff as they are in Ontario. To ensure renewable power is developed sustainably, biomass power generation has been limited to 700 GWh/yr and tidal power will be developed “safely”.

The Province will review all of the components of the Plan in 2012, including the possibility of expanding the use or feed-in tariffs.

 

Friday, December 2, 2011

CIVIL SOCIETY INSTITUTE STUDY: U.S. COULD ACHIEVE OVER $80 BILLION IN LOWER ENERGY COSTS BY FOCUSING ON SAFER, RENEWABLE ENERGY

Civil Society Institute

WASHINGTON, D.C. – November 16, 2011 – It is a myth that switching to safe, renewable energy would mean an unreliable U.S. power supply that also is too expensive to afford. That is the major conclusion of a new Synapse Energy Economics report prepared for the nonprofit Civil Society Institute (CSI) that details a future with more energy efficiency and renewable energy and less reliance on coal and nuclear power. Titled "Toward a Sustainable Future for the U.S. Power Sector: Beyond Business as Usual 2011," new Synapse/CSI report outlines a realistic transition to a cleaner energy future that would result in a net savings of $83 billion over the next 40 years. The Synapse report also details other major benefits, including: the avoidance of tens of thousands of premature deaths due to pollution; the creation of hundreds of thousands of new jobs; sharp cuts in carbon pollution; and significant cuts in water consumption for power production.

Read the 11.16.11 Civil Society Institute news release here.
Read the 11.16.11 Synapse Energy Economics report here.
After 5 p.m. EST on 11.16.11, listen to the streaming audio of the CSI news event.
Read about the related 11.3.11 CSI national opinion survey here.

Friday, November 11, 2011

How Germany Became Europe’s Green Leader

Cyclists on Freiburg's car-free Wiwili bridge. The bridge was closed
to cars in the early 2000s and is now open only to cyclists and
pedestrians. Photo by Ralph Buehler.
October 24, 2011
Ralph Buehler, Arne Jungjohann,
Melissa Keeley, Michael Mehling

This article examines how German environmental policymaking over the last 40 years transformed Europe’s economic engine into the international driver of green growth. By examining Germany’s environmental policy development in the energy, infrastructure and transportation sectors, transferable lessons are gleaned that may help the US pave its own green policy agenda.

(more…)

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Feed-in Tariffs Best to Deal with Climate Change Says IPCC Working Group III Renewables

FITs Least Costly–Most Competitive Mechanism Says Climate Researchers

November 8, 2011

By Paul Gipe

The 135-page report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change , especially Chapter 11 on Policy, Financing and Implementation, makes it clear that the overwhelming weight of academic studies conclude that feed-in tariffs–or fixed-price mechanisms–perform better at delivering renewable energy quickly and equitably than quota systems, such as Renewable Portfolio Standards in the US or the Renewable Obligation in Britain. This is not the unsurprising conclusion from a surprising source: the IPCC's Working Group III on Renewables.

Below are selected excerpts illustrating the theme that runs through the report.

Page 5

Several studies have concluded that some feed-in tariffs have been effective and efficient at promoting RE electricity,

(more…)

Friday, October 7, 2011

Snapshot of Feed-in Tariffs around the World in 2011

Updated Tables of Feed-in Tariffs Worldwide

Summary of Prices for Wind, Solar, Geothermal, & Other Technologies

October 5, 2011

By Paul Gipe

10-million-solar-roofs Feed-in tariffs are the world's most popular renewable energy policy mechanism. Despite the economic recession, more and more jurisdictions are turning to feed-in tariffs to spur not only renewable energy development but also industrial development and the attendant jobs that it creates.

The following article is a snapshot of places where feed-in tariffs are being used, and the prices that are being paid. While extensive, this article is not comprehensive. It does not include every tariff for every technology in every jurisdiction, but it does give a flavor for the widespread use of this policy mechanism with the odd name.

More than 80 jurisdictions around the world now use or have used feed-in tariffs to pay for new renewable generation, according to a recent report by REN 21. These vary from former Eastern Bloc countries, such as Slovenia and Bulgaria, to developing countries, such as Uganda and Mongolia, to the more well known examples of Germany and France.

According to the Renewables 2011 Global Status Report, feed-in tariffs now dominate policy for renewable energy worldwide. There are 60% more jurisdictions (states, provinces, and entire countries) using feed-in tariffs than are now using quota systems (Renewable Portfolio Standards, Renewable Energy Standards, and so on).

(more…)

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Rhode Island Posts Proposed Tariffs–Meets Deadline

October 3, 2011

By Paul Gipe

In record time, the government of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations has posted proposed feed-in tariffs for renewable energy.

Only signed into law by Governor Lincoln Chafee on 29 June, 2011, Rhode Island determined a methodology for calculating the tariffs, held four public hearings, and posted their findings by the statutory deadline at the end of September.

Rhode Island's fast action should allay any further hand wringing by North Americans that calculating feed-in tariffs is difficult and time consuming.

Rhode Island becomes only the second state in the Northeast to implement a feed-in tariff program and one of the few states in the US to do so.

The Rhode Island Office of Energy Resources managed the expedited process and filed their recommendations September 27, 2011 in compliance with the law.

 

Thursday, September 29, 2011

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Sunday, September 18, 2011

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Sunday, September 18, 2011

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Thursday, September 1, 2011

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Thursday, September 1, 2011

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Thursday, September 1, 2011

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If you will pay by check, please make the check payable to the Alliance for Renewable Energy and send to: ARE c/o EarthAction International, PO Box 63, Amherst, MA 01004.

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Wednesday, July 20, 2011

State Level Feed in Tariff and Federal Preemption Papers released

Jennifer Gleason, The Environmental Law Foundation Jennifer Gleason of ELAW (Environmental Law Alliance Worldwide), and the Alliance for Renewable Energy has finished two exceptional papers on the issues of state level Feed-in Tariffs.

The first paper, Adopting State Feed-in Tariff Laws without Federal Preemption  is intended to help renewable energy advocates understand the concerns about federal preemption and understand possible paths forward for states to adopt robust FITs that are not preempted.

The second, accompanying paper Available Paths for Designing Strong State Feed in Tariffs is intended to provide sample language that could be used by states to implement a Feed-in Tariff that should not be preempted by federal law.  This language only addresses how the rates would be set.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

What’s in a name?

The effective renewable energy policy that ARE promotes was invented (and then abandoned) in California in the early 1980s. Since then it has been picked up and successfully implemented in over 60 countries worldwide. It many countries this policy is simply called a ‘Feed-in tariff, ‘or ‘FIT’ for short.  The name ‘feed-in tariff’ is a translation from the German description of the mechanism at the heart of this policy. In English the word ‘tariff’ means ‘rate’ and is commonly used in regulatory proceedings in North America. A ‘feed-in tariff’ is the rate paid to renewable energy producers for the energy they ‘feed into the grid.’ In North America the word ‘tariff’ can also mean ‘tax’. Consequently, the term ‘feed-in tariff’ can be problematic here. North Americans have come up with a variety of other terms for this one policy: Standard Offer Contracts, Renewable Energy Standard Offers, Renewable Energy Payments, Advanced Renewal Tariffs, Feed-in Laws, Renewable Energy Dividends, and many more! It’s getting a bit confusing.

In 2010 a study was commissioned by the New York based Rockefeller Brothers Fund to rename this policy in the United States. The plan was to come up with something meaningful that most everyone could agree to.  Rockefeller’s consultants chose CLEAN Contracts—Clean, Local, Energy, Accessible, Now—Contracts.

Regardless of what they are called the most effective FIT policies or CLEAN Contracts share a few basic characteristics:

1.   Grid Connection: Everyone who wants to sell the renewable energy they produce is guaranteed a connection to the electrical grid. This includes producers of electricity from solar, wind, micro-hydro, hydro, biogas, geothermal, biomass, and combined heat and power (CHP) if tethered to one of the forenamed. There is no limit on the amount of renewable energy that producers can feed into the grid and sell to the utilities.

2.   Long-term Contracts: Utilities and renewable energy producers sign transparent, streamlined, long-term (15-20 year) contracts with set rates per kWh.

3.   Established Rates:

  1. The contract rates are set according to the type, size, and location of the energy producing installation. They are determined by the producer’s actual cost of generating the electricity plus a reasonable rate of return (profit). The prices are set high enough to be an incentive to new renewable energy producers and for existing producers to expand their generating capacities.
  2. An independent review board, often a state or provincial regulatory authority, is established by the governing body to periodically set the prices and terms for new contracts.

Sharing the Benefits and Costs 

As these policies are adopted throughout North America and renewable energy replaces the burning of fossil fuels there will be many benefits to everyone, including electricity rate payers. These benefits include:

  • Increased renewable energy jobs in their region, keeping more money reinvested locally
  • Less air, land and water pollution
  • Improved health and lower health care costs
  • Electricity independence and assurance of supply
  • Long-term reduction of electricity costs

In the short term, these policies may increase costs to rate payers as renewables begin to replace fossil fuel resources where the capital costs have already been recovered.   

Over time, the rapid development of renewable energy stimulated by these policies will stabilize utility costs as the price for fossil fuels continues to increase.

In Europe, Feed-in tariffs have on average added between a $1 to $2 increase per month to household electric bills. However, when fossil fuel prices have risen dramatically, as in 2008, Feed-in tariffs have saved rate payers money.