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 from http://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