McGuinty Government Learns Lesson from Harper – MicroFIT Solar Power Program CUTS by Richard Komorowski – July 11, 2010

Cornwall ON – Following the Harper government’s unprecedented lead in cancelling its part of the ecoEnergy refit program last March, a year ahead of schedule, the McGuinty Liberal government has announced it is cutting some of the rates paid to producers under the province’s MicroFIT program.

Until just recently, the province was guaranteeing a price of 80.2¢/kWh to producers, typically homeowners, small businesses and farmers, who installed solar panels capable of generating up to 10kW on their properties. However, the government has announced that for many installations, the tariff is being dropped to 58.8¢/kWh.

The Ontario Power Authority, which administers the program, cites an overwhelming popularity for ground mounted solar projects. Since the program was announced last October the OPA has received around 16,000 applications.

The Green Energy Act, passed last year, promised to bring 50,000 new jobs to the province. Some of these jobs have already been created – many more are in the works as installation of solar panels gains in popularity. According to industry sources, many of these jobs are now in jeopardy as potential customers cancel their orders.

The Green Energy Act also put the province in the forefront of preparing for a future without fossil fuels, so this latest step by the OPA seriously questions the act’s credibility.

The original idea of the MicroFIT program was to pay potential producers enough to make investing in solar technology financially worthwhile. Those who have their projects already up and running, or have had them approved by the OPA have nothing to fear at the moment. The price they receive is guaranteed in a 20 year contract.

The OPA right now is offering to maintain the 80.2¢ tariff for new rooftop installations, but is dropping the price on “ground mounted” installations, the ones that would be particularly suited to farmers, stating that ground installations are cheaper to install. This is contrary to what industry sources are saying.

According to their press release, “The OPA believes the new price category is fair, reasonable, more accurately reflects the costs associated with ground-mounted projects and maintains the long-term stability of the program,” says Colin Andersen, Chief Executive Officer of the Ontario Power Authority. “It enables the program to continue to meet its original goals and provides proper value to both generators and ratepayers.”

The OPA is promising a 30-day comment period on the proposed new price category. Please send all comments and submissions to the OPA. While all emails will be read, not all emails will receive individual responses.
Comments also can be mailed to the following address and must be postmarked no later than Tuesday, August 3, 2010.

Ontario Power Authority
120 Adelaide Street West, Suite 1600
Toronto, Ontario M5H 1T1

Attention: Ground-Mounted Solar PV

Brad Duguid, Ontario’s Minister of Energy and Infrastructure, said on Friday that in recent months the OPA has received around 10,000 applications for ground-mount projects that were essentially “flooding” the program. If the OPA were to honour all of those applications it would cost ratepayers $1 billion over the 20-year lifespan of those contracts.

This might well be true, however, the press release has been buried in the OPA website since July 2. It did not become common knowledge until last Friday. When the Harper government reneged on its promise to maintain its part of the ecoEnergy program, it did at least allow people who had already applied for the program prior to its closure to remain eligible. The Ontario Government, however, does not appear to be considering this option.

“All other ground-mounted microFIT projects, including those for which an application has been submitted but have not yet received a contract or conditional contract offer, will receive the price following consultations on the proposed 58.8¢/kWh. Ground-mounted microFIT applications will be processed following the 30-day comment period.”

You can also email the Minister, Brad Duguid, and local MPP Jim Brownell, with your comments.

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  1. It sounds like to me that the program is being capped, not cut.

  2. Tell that to the farmers that invested in the microfit program that they were promised and then be cut at the knees after they signed on.

  3. OPA wants all that money for themselves… he who controls energy controls everything.
    They certainly don’t want you and me to be energy independent!? Who knows what could happen… we could not need the ‘authority’ anymore?

    They want to build giant nuclear plants that will cost us all millions over our lifetimes and over our grandkids lifetimes!

    Please remember… The ‘economy’ is a theory on paper. it is not a living thing. (BP, EXXON, Tar Sands)

  4. Jason Cohen
    Can you provide any feasibility studies completed by Sentinal Soalar Corp showing the efficiency of solar energy as it pertains to the units you promote?

    It would be appreciated thanx

  5. Russian president Medvedev announced that Russia would work closely with Poland in the crash investigation to learn the cause— Russian pabulum for Western ears. Russia called on the participants at the G8 summit to consider the creation of a new international monetary control system, which could help prevent further crises, an aid to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said.

  6. They just modified the program.. The “fresh”solar contractors didnt had experiance of installing
    solar pvs on the roof so they went for farm land with the microfit program that was ment to be installed on the roof. Farmers have lot of roof space. If they want a bigger system they can always chose that (FIT program)

  7. There appears to be an important portion of information not mentioned in this article.
    How they can maintain a payback of 80.2¢/kWh to independant suppliers? and where does OPA get their money from?

  8. Most people investing in this clean energy are taking a large risk mostly for the good of mankind. It takes the peple investing in such projects that turn the wheels of progress into a new clean and bright future for the children of our children that they too amy live in a safe and clean environment. Sometimes it takes a large shot of dynamite to get a landslide of good things to happen in the future.

  9. One might compare clean solar and wind energy to the following senario. You have children and they like to have a snack at night. Now we all know that it is cheaper to feed the clildren some greasy potato chips than to purchace healty and clean snacks. So since most of us would give our children the more expensive snack why should we not give the children of tommorrow healty air to breath even though it may cost us a bit more. Just a thought to ponder on.

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