Ontario Power Authority Finalizes Price for New Ground-mounted Solar

Consultations Inform Fair Outcome

TORONTO, Aug. 13 /CNW/ - The Ontario Power Authority today announced that following a 30-day consultation period, it has 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 price strikes the right balance between providing a reasonable rate of return to electricity generators and protecting ratepayers from higher than necessary electricity prices.

"The outcome of a constructive consultation process is that these changes provide fairness for those who have applied to the existing program and good value for clean energy," said Minister of Energy and Infrastructure Brad Duguid. "The microFIT program will continue to be a sustainable program that encourages residents to participate in the growing clean energy economy."

"The microFIT program has been tremendously successful since it was launched in October 2009," says Colin Andersen, Chief Executive Officer of the Ontario Power Authority. "With these changes, it has been made even stronger going forward."

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 will also 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 is also making 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

    -  Commercial aggregators (e.g., businesses that lease land or rooftops
       from individuals for multiple renewable energy projects) will no
       longer be allowed to participate in the microFIT program. This will
       ensure that the microFIT program is focused on its original purpose -
       encouraging homeowners, farmers, farm co-operatives, First Nations,
       small businesses and institutions such as schools, to own and develop
       small renewable projects.

    -  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.

To implement these changes announced today, new microFIT applications will be accepted beginning on Friday, August 20.

The OPA has received almost 19,000 microFIT applications since the program was launched less than a year ago. More than 6,100 conditional offers have been sent to applicants and almost 800 microFIT projects are now feeding clean energy into Ontario's grid.

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, microfit.powerauthority.on.ca.

The OPA will host a webinar on August 18 from 2 to 4 p.m. to answer questions about the finalized price, the advisory panel and other details. Information on how to participate can be found on the microFIT website.

The new microFIT program encourages the development of small-scale renewable energy projects (solar, wind, water, bioenergy) of 10 kilowatts or less from a diverse range of producers, including homeowners, farmers, schools, First Nations and small businesses. It is part of a broader Ontario feed-in tariff (FIT) program, the most comprehensive of its kind in North America.

The Ontario Power Authority is responsible for ensuring a reliable, sustainable supply of electricity for Ontario. Its four key areas of focus are: planning the power system for the long term, leading and co-ordinating conservation initiatives across the province, ensuring development of needed generation resources, and supporting the continued evolution of the electricity sector.

SOURCE Ontario Power Authority

For further information: For further information: Media contacts: Tim Butters, Ontario Power Authority, 416-969-6307, Toll Free: 1-800-797-9604; Andrew Block, Office of the Honourable Brad Duguid, Minister of Energy and Infrastructure, 416-327-6747

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