TORONTO, ON — The future will be brighter for many businesses in Ontario as more than 500 new green energy projects, most of them solar power installations, were approved today.
These 510 projects are the first larger power generators to obtain contracts through Ontario's landmark Feed-In Tariff (FIT) program, the most comprehensive of its kind in North America. FIT encourages the development of renewable energy projects from a diverse range of producers, including homeowners, schools, farmers, large retailers and small businesses, by offering long-term, stable prices for the electricity generated.
"Everybody is participating, from everywhere in Ontario, from farmers, schools and hospitals to large scale retail and commercial operations," said Brad Duguid, Minister of Energy and Infrastructure. "These projects will create a new source of income while providing new clean and green electricity in Ontario — particularly on hot, sunny summer days when demand soars. With our new domestic content rules, these projects will also help create new 'green collar' jobs here in Ontario, as well as major economic investments in equipment and services here at home."
The 510 projects are to be built in 120 communities across Ontario by farmers, municipalities, local distribution companies, commercial businesses, industrial customers, public institutions, such as schools and hospitals, a winery and even a church. The projects range from 10 kilowatts to 500 kilowatts and have a total generating capacity of 112 megawatts — enough energy to power more than 13,000 homes. About 95 percent of the projects are for solar generation. The remaining projects are biogas (20), water (4), onshore wind (3) and biomass (1). A detailed list of the projects is available on the Ontario Power Authority's website at www.fit.powerauthority.on.ca
Loblaw Companies Limited, Canada's largest grocery retailer, has been approved for FIT applications for rooftop solar installations on 136 of its Ontario stores. The grocery retailer will initially launch four pilot projects in select stores across the province and then evaluate the next phase of rollouts.
"This initiative is part of Loblaw's overall effort to support renewable energy sources and green operation and embraces ways to reduce our carbon footprint," said Bob Chant, vice president, corporate affairs, Loblaw Companies Limited. "We are committed to driving green energy production using new and innovative technologies, such as this pilot project with photovoltaic panels."
The Feed-in Tariff program's domestic content requirements ensure that a key portion of the technology used for renewable energy generation comes from Ontario. Developers must meet a certain percentage of made-in-Ontario goods and labour at the time the project reaches commercial operation. For solar photovoltaic projects larger than 10 kilowatts, the requirement is 50 per cent today, which will increase to 60 per cent on Jan. 1, 2011.
"The Ontario Power Authority is very excited about today's announcement. Over the last year, we consulted, developed and launched the program. These first contracts really bring the program to life and highlight its success," said Colin Andersen, CEO of the Ontario Power Authority.
The Ontario Power Authority began accepting FIT applications on Oct. 1, 2009 and received 956 eligible applications for the first round of FIT contracts, including the 510 projects announced today. Due to their size (up to 500 kilowatts), these projects can be connected to Ontario's electricity grid without detailed impact assessments necessary for larger projects.
The FIT program, one of the cornerstones of Ontario's Green Energy Act, provides stable, guaranteed pricing to renewable energy producers. It supports the province's commitment to eliminate dirty coal-fired generation by the end of 2014 — the single largest climate change initiative in Canada. FIT and other initiatives under the Green Energy Act will support the creation of 50,000 "green collar" jobs.
The OPA is responsible for ensuring a reliable, sustainable supply of electricity for Ontario. Its four key areas of focus are: planning the power system for the long term, leading and co-ordinating conservation initiatives across the province, ensuring development of needed generation resources, and supporting the continued evolution of the electricity sector.