On April 8, 2010, the Ontario Power Authority (OPA) announced approval to issue contracts with respect to 184 large-scale projects under the renewable energy Feed-In Tariff (FIT) program. Combined, these projects will represent over 2,400 MW of renewable electricity generation capacity for Ontarians and contribute significantly to the economic development policies underlying the Government of Ontario’s Green Energy and Green Economy Act, 2009 (GEGEA). These 184 announced projects are in addition to the 510 smaller scale renewable projects for which the OPA has been issuing FIT contracts over the past several weeks.
Some notable aspects of the announcement include:
- The 184 approved projects are among the first that will test the new Renewable Energy Approval (REA) permitting process administered by the Ontario Ministry of the Environment, one of the essential elements of the GEGEA.
- Included in these approved projects to receive a power purchase agreement is Ontario’s first off-shore wind farm, putting this segment of the renewable generation sector in Ontario (which has several large scale projects under development) one step closer to construction, financing and commercial operating experience.
- The Ontario Government has stated that the approved projects under the FIT program will attract close to $9 billion in capital investment and will create over 20,000 jobs in the province.
Applicants who applied in the launch phase of the FIT program and who did not receive approval to receive a FIT contract in the OPA’s April 8 announcement will be subjected to the Economic Connection Test (ECT) to determine whether the public investment necessary to connect the project to the grid is within a reasonable threshold. Those projects meeting the requirements of the ECT will have the opportunity to enter the “FIT Production Line” while the necessary connection resources are developed. The GEGEA’s ability to open up connection resource development to accommodate viable generation projects through these mechanisms will be tested in the coming months.