August 13, 2010 / 7:15 PM / in 7 years

Ontario sets new lower rate for some solar power

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Ontario, Canada’s most populous province, announced on Friday a new lower rate for power it buys from some small solar systems under its much-vaunted clean energy incentive program.

The Ontario Power Authority will now pay 64.2 Canadian cents per kilowatt hour for electricity produced from small ground-mounted solar power installations. That’s down the original price of 80.2 Canadian cents announced by the provincial government when it launched its feed-in tariff (FIT) program last year.

Earlier this year, the power authority said it would cut the rate for small, ground-mounted solar to 58.8 Canadian cents per kWh, citing the excessive cost of the program. That resulted in a barrage of complaints from industry players who said the proposed reduction was too deep and came to quickly after the launch of the program.

The Canadian Solar Industries Association said on Friday it was satisfied the revised plans will get the program back on track. “They listened to what leaders in our industry had to say,” CanSIA President Elizabeth McDonald said.

Eligible applications submitted before noon July 2 will still receive 80.2 Canadian cents per kWh, whether or not the proposals have received a contract or conditional offer.

The government also said on Friday that companies leasing land or rooftops from individuals for multiple renewable energy projects, known as commercial aggregators, can no longer participate in its microFIT program.

The microFIT program is aimed at encouraging homeowners, farmers, aboriginals, small business and institutions such as schools, to own and develop small renewable projects, it said.

Small rooftop solar systems still get 80.2 Canadian cents kWh for their power under microFIT.

Rates for large renewable power projects such as wind farms and large solar installations have not changed. The Ontario feed-in tariff program pays 53.9 Canadian cents per kWh for the biggest solar rooftop projects, while it gives 13.5 Canadian cents per kWh for onshore wind projects and 19 Canadian cents per kWh for offshore wind projects, regardless of size.

Ontario launched the program, which is North America’s richest incentive program for renewable energy producers, last October, aiming to create jobs and eliminate dirty, coal-fired power generators.

The power authority said it has received nearly 19,000 microFIT applications and sent conditional offers to more than 6,100 applicants.

Nearly 800 microFIT projects are currently supplying power to the Ontario grid.

“These changes provide fairness for those who have applied to the existing program and good value for clean energy,” Minister of Energy and Infrastructure Brad Duguid said in a statement.

($1=$1.04 Canadian)

Reporting by Susan Taylor; editing by Peter Galloway

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