Having previously decided to exclude commercial aggregators from the microFIT program, the OPA announced on February 1 that it will be introducing a new stream in the Feed-in Tariff ("FIT") program for such aggregators. The OPA is inviting stakeholder comment on the proposed rules.
Aggregators are commercial entities that have multiple microFIT projects. Usually, such aggregators offer to build and operate microFIT projects on residential properties in exchange for paying homeowners a monthly royalty fee or rental payment. The OPA took issue with this business model because the microFIT program was designed and priced on the assumption that homeowners would be develop their own systems.
The proposed rules will adjust the pricing available to aggregators while introducing contractual concepts that had previously been available only in the FIT (not microFIT) contract. Specifically, the new program will include:
- appropriate pricing, currently set at 71.3 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh) for rooftop solar PV projects and 44.3 cents/kWh for ground-mounted solar PV projects (both significantly less that the corresponding microFIT rates);
- contract provisions to permit a lender to have step-in rights in the event of a supplier default to the lender, which should make it easier for aggregators to obtain third-party debt financing; and
- an application fee of $500 per megawatt, with a minimum fee of $500.