By Gary Sliworsky, Ag rep, Emo
On Aug. 13, the Ontario Power Authority announced that following a 30-day consultation period, it had finalized the price for the new microFIT ground-mounted solar price category at 64.2 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh).
The finalized price reflects input received during the consultation period and incorporates a wider variation of cost inputs and project configurations, including higher operating and maintenance costs for ground-mounted tracking systems.
The new price category is effective immediately for eligible projects with applications submitted after noon on July 2, 2010, when a new price category was proposed.
Eligible ground-mounted applications submitted prior to noon on July 2, 2010 will receive the original price of 80.2 cents/kWh whether or not they have received a contract or conditional offer.
These applicants also will have until May 31, 2011 to install and request a connection for their projects before higher domestic content requirements are required.
Ground-mounted solar microFIT contracts signed and conditional offers received before July 2 will continue to be eligible for the original price of 80.2 cents/kWh.
During the 30-day consultation period, the OPA held three web-enabled teleconferences with 1,665 participants and received 1,645 written submissions about the proposed price.
Based on this input, the OPA also made the following announcements:
To improve communication and increase transparency, the OPA is establishing a microFIT program advisory panel that will provide advice on program evolution, including the two-year review process.
The panel will be made up of industry, academic, and other stakeholder reps.
As well, commercial aggregators (e.g., businesses that lease land or rooftops from individuals for multiple renewable energy projects) no longer will be allowed to participate in the microFIT program.
The panel will make recommendations, on an expedited basis, about appropriate contracting provisions for aggregators to reflect the unique nature of commercial micro projects.
This will help ensure that commercial aggregators can continue to participate in the clean energy economy, but do so outside of the microFIT program structure.
New microFIT applications are now being accepted as of Aug. 20.
The OPA is working to respond quickly to microFIT applicants. Most ground-mounted applications that have been submitted will be processed by the end of September.
Details on the timeline goals for offering conditional contracts are available on the microFIT website at microfit.powerauthority.on.ca
The new microFIT program encourages the development of small-scale renewable energy projects (i.e., solar, wind, water, and bioenergy) of 10 kilowatts or less from a diverse range of producers, including homeowners, farmers, schools, First Nations, and small businesses.
Dates to remember
•Sept. 4—Cattle sale, Stratton sales yard