Change in Ontario’s FIT Program: New Price for Ground-Mounted Solar

Since passing the Green Energy Act last year, Ontario has tried to position itself as the leader for clean energy in Canada, North America, and around the world.  One of the highlights of the Green Energy Act is the feed-in-tariff (FIT) program, which allows clean energy developers to create renewable energy projects and sell the electricity back to the grid.  Ontario’s current FIT prices are the highest in Canada and among the highest in the world, providing anywhere between 44.3 and 80.2 cents per kWh for solar PV projects, depending on the size.  All FIT prices are available online.

The FIT program has been relatively successful in boosting Canada’s green energy market.  Solar PV projects are particularly popular with 700 solar rooftop projects approved in all areas of Ontario, including in Windsor, Toronto, and Thunder Bay.  Ground-mounted projects are even more popular.  More than 16,000 applications have been submitted for solar PV projects, with the lion’s share going to ground-mounted solar systems.

New FIT Prices Better Reflection of Solar PV Project Costs in Canada?

Currently all projects (either ground-mounted or solar) under 10kW (categorized as microFIT projects) receive a FIT price of 80.2 cents per kWh.  In early July, the Ontario Power Authority (OPA) announced that due to the popularity of ground-mounted solar projects, it would propose a new pricing category, disaggregating smaller projects (less than 10 kW) into rooftop and ground-mounted categories.  Rooftop projects will continue to receive the 80.2 cent rate while ground-mounted projects less than 10kW could eventually receive the proposed FIT price of 58.8 cents per kWh.

Colin Anderson, CEO of the Authority, states that, “The OPA believes that the new price category… more accurately reflects costs associated with ground-mounted projects, … enables the [FIT] program to meet its original goals, and provides proper value to generators and taxpayers.”  The proposed rate of 58.8 cents will only apply to developers who do not already have a contract.  Approved ground-mounted projects will received the original FIT price rate of 80.2 cents as outlined in the original contract.  

The proposed changes to the pricing schedule make proper design and installation more critical, thus, highlighting the importance of proper solar training.  With deeper segmentation in the photovoltaic market due to the revised pricing table, it is possible that new target groups will find opportunities and incentives to join the green movement.  This added demand could help spark even greater interest in the requisite training and courses necessary to enter the growing PV industry.

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