Under B.C.’s Clean Energy Act, the feed-in tariff (“FIT”) program will involve BC Hydro and Power Authority (“BC Hydro”) entering into supply contracts with small-scale electricity providers producing power from clean sources such as biomass, biogas, geothermal heat, hydro, solar, ocean, wind and other prescribed resources.
The B.C. government will seek to pass FIT program regulations by early 2011, and is currently accepting comments regarding its Feed-In Tariff Regulation Consultation Paper released last month.
According to the Consultation Paper, FIT programs are intended to support investment in emerging clean technologies in the earlier stages of commercial deployment, as well as to spur growth in areas of the province that would benefit from greater grid integration and job creation.
FIT programs will not finance clean power projects, but rather create a marketplace for clean power by offering rates of return of about five to ten per cent. Rates paid to FIT operators are expected to vary depending on the project's size, resource type, location and other factors.
The Consultation Paper states that the B.C. Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources has made the following proposals regarding FIT projects:
- To cap the size of FIT projects at five megawatts, meaning that FIT projects will not function as general power procurement tools for BC Hydro;
- To limit annual spending on all power acquired under FIT projects to $25 million above the cost of acquiring the same volume of electricity through BC Hydro’s Standing Offer Program, a similar BC Hydro initiative to support clean energy but with fixed rates paid to program participants; and
- To limit the term of most FIT projects to five years, with the option of securing an Electricity Purchase Agreement with the project at the end of term at the rates under the Standing Offer Program.
The comment period for the Consultation Paper will close September 30, 2010.