September 24, 2009 marked the first Feed-in Tariff (FIT) program in North America for offshore wind projects. The FIT program, established by the Government of Ontario under its Green Energy Act passed in May of this year, is designed to support the development of renewable energy projects in Ontario, and offers developers fixed pricing under long-term contracts. Offshore wind projects benefit from a contract price of CAD 0.19/kWh (subject to a CPI-based escalation clause) under a 20-year power purchase agreement. Pricing is intended to cover total project costs and provide a reasonable rate of return to project investors.

The FIT program also provides qualified projects with the right to connect to the electricity grid, a one-stop streamlined approval process, and a six-month service guarantee per project. Ontario Power Authority is responsible for administering the FIT and will begin accepting applications as early as October 1, 2009. Further details of the program can be found at www.powerauthority.on.ca/FIT.

The Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources estimates that up to 35,000 MW of potential offshore wind development exists in the provincial waters of the Great Lakes, and developers are actively moving forward to capture those resources. The leader is Toronto-based Trillium Power Wind Corporation, which is developing the 710 MW Trillium Power Wind I project near the U.S. border in the east end of Lake Ontario. Trillium recently announced three other undisclosed project development sites in Canadian waters of the Great Lakes, including the 1,600 MW Great Lakes Array, the 650 MW Superior Array, and the 740 MW Trillium Power Wind II.

Toronto Hydro also is pursuing offshore wind resources, with a 100 MW project under development in Lake Ontario near the east end of Toronto. Canadian developer Southpoint Wind is pursuing a smaller 30 MW proposed project in Lake Erie near Leamington. Meanwhile, Canadian Hyrdo Developers, Inc. just announced an agreement to acquire the rights to a 4,400 MW “offshore wind prospect” in Great Lakes waters bordering Ontario, which if completed, would be the largest offshore operation in the world.