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 2 years and is undergoing its first scheduled review. 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 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.
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:
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.
For more on renewable energy issues in Canada visit the Canadian Renewable Energy Alliance at http://new.canrea.ca/site
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.
For more on renewable energy issues in Canada visit the Canadian Renewable EnergyAlliance at http://www.canrea.ca.
Electricity System: Electricity generation in New Brunswick is generated and distributed by an independent provincial corporation New Brunswick Power.
On February 9, 2010 New Brunswick announced a new Community Energy Policy and a special tariff that will pay 10 cents/kWh for power generated from new community power projects of all types. Many observers agree that this price is far too low to encourage investment in renewable energy projects, and is not a true feed-in tariff like those used inOntario, Nova Scotia and in Europe, as it is not based on providing a reasonable rate of return to investors.
The new policy also does not guarantee access to the grid as a true feed-in tariff program should. The initial phase of the will consist of 75 MW, of which 50 MW will be assigned to community-owned projects and the other 25 MW to First Nations projects.To qualify under the policy, projects must not be larger than 15 MW in capacity. They must be majority-owned by First Nations, municipalities, co-operatives, not-for-profit organizations or institutions. New Brunswick-based private corporations and investors may be minority partners.
“Feed-in tariffs are supposed to be based on the cost of the electricity produced plus a reasonable return for the producer” said David Coon, Executive Director of theConservation Council of New Brunswick. “The proposed price is too low to enable communities to develop renewable energy projects. They just won’t be able to afford it.”In Ontario, wind power projects are paid between 13 cents and 19 cents/kWh and solar between 40 cents and 80 cents /kWh. These prices have resulted in contracts for 2500MW of new renewable power projects in less that a year.
In September 2010, the Conservation Council of New Brunswick joined with CanREA member Falls Brook Centre and many other organizations to publish a Greenprint –Towards a Sustainable New Brunswick. On energy, the Greenprint recommended that New Brunswick:
1. Revise the provincial feed-in tariff policy by adjusting the rate structure to ensure that projects can be economically feasible and by expanding the program’s eligibility beyond community-based projects (to individuals, businesses, etc.). Double NB Power’s requirement to supply new renewable energy from 10 to 20%.
2. Provide tax incentives for cooperative and community ownership of renewable energy.
For more on renewable energy issues in Canada visit the Canadian Renewable Energy Alliance at http://www.canrea.ca.
Electricity System: Generation, transmission and most distribution electricity capacity in BC is owned and operated by provincially owned utility BC Hydro. Fortis BC distributes power in the Kootenay/Okanagan region.
Much of the province’s power already comes from renewable sources (hydro-electricity). At the same time, pockets of high cost fossil fuel supply exist, while other forms of renewable power are effectively shut out of the market.
The British Columbia Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources announced its intention to introduce a Feed-In Tariff Regulation under Section 16 of the 2009 Clean Energy Act to support fulfillment of British Columbia’s Energy Objectives. A Consultation Paper was produced in 2010 and proposed a very limited FIT program:
- The FIT should not be used as a general power procurement tool
- Annual expenditures should be limited to $25 million limit above the cost of acquiring the power through BC’s existing Standing Offer Program
- Size should be limited to 5 MW and the FIT contract to 5 years
- The FIT should be only for on-grid to biomass, biogas, geothermal, instream hydrokinetic, and ocean energy.
- Off-grid solar or wind might be included.
The BC Sustainable Energy Association input to the consultation paper noted that the opportunities for renewable power development will be severly restricted by the 5-year contract limit and will not give developers sufficient time to make a return on their investment. BCSEA also notes that the 5 MW limit may rule out geothermal developments. Limiting solar and wind to off-grid applications means they would have to compete in the Standing Offer Program.
As of January 2012, BC has not introduced a feed-in tariff.
For more on renewable energy issues in Canada visit the Canadian Renewable Energy Alliance.