The Toronto District School Board ("TDSB") announced a deal today with AMP Solar LP for the installation of solar systems on up to 450 of the board's 524 roofs. Under the 20-year deal, AMP Solar LP will be responsible for obtaining Feed-in Tariff contracts for each system and for designing, building, operating and maintaining the systems. AMP Solar LP will be entitled to all of the revenue generated from the sale of renewable power under the FIT program. AMP Solar LP will pay a modest rent to the TDSB for the roof space it uses. More importantly, it has agreed to replace up to 10.2 million square feet of roofing over the length of the contract. This represents 42% of the Board's complete roofing portfolio.

A Q&A document provided to board trustees in advance of today's vote estimates that between 58 and 66 MW of solar generation could be installed over the life of the contract. The deal is being described as the first of its kind and one of the largest in North America.

However, AMP Solar LP has a lot of work ahead of it. A report provided to TDSB trustees suggests that AMP Solar LP has not yet received any FIT contracts from the Ontario Power Authority for the project. The report includes the following comment: "Revenue and the total extent of roof replacement depend on the number of FIT Contracts that are approved by the OPA. Toronto Hydro must also confirm the ability to connect to an electrical distribution system, as part of the OPA project approval process."

Solar developers have increasingly found it difficult to get projects approved, in large part due to concerns about the capacity of the Ontario grid to handle the flood of new generation that the FIT program has produced. However, it appears that the TDSB and AMP SOlar LP have factored capacity constraints into their plan. The report to the trustees notes the following:

"There have been two significant changes since negotiations with the proponent began, that have had an impact on the scale and timing of the project:

  • Capacity Limitations: Toronto Hydro has advised that capacity limitations exist that potentially limit the Phase 1 of the project to 27 mega watts;  
  • Connectivity Impact Assessments: As of December 8, 2010, the projects will require a Connectivity Impact Assessment (CIA) which lengthens the approval process.

The impact of these changes has been factored into the project and its structure."

AMP Solar LP is a joint venture of AMP Solar Group Inc., which has already developed three operation rooftop projects for IKEA, and Potentia Solar Inc., is developing six solar PV rooftop systems in the Queensway Avenue East and Tedlo Street area of Mississauga. The TDSB awarded the contract to AMP Solar LP following a competitive bidding process that saw eight bidders respond to an RFP issued in April.