Ontario’s renewable energy sector breathed a sigh of relief on Thursday as the province announced rate reductions for solar and wind power that were more modest than some had feared and it repeated its commitment to renewable power targets.
Following are some important developments in the history of the program:
October 2009 – Ontario launches the most comprehensive and generous set of feed-in tariffs in North America. The incentives guarantee sellers of electricity produced from the sun, wind, water, biomass and other green sources that their power will be purchased for 20 years at fixed-rate, above-market prices.
January 20, 2010 – Ontario signs a C$7 billion ($7 billion) agreement with a consortium led by South Korea’s Samsung CDT to build four wind and solar power-generating clusters in the province with a combined generating capacity of 2,500 megawatt by 2016. The consortium will build four manufacturing plants – to produce wind towers, solar inverters, solar module assemblies and wind blades – in Ontario between 2013 and 2015. Ontario kicks in C$437 million in incentives to the consortium, which angers some local manufacturing companies.
April 8, 2010 – The Ontario Power Authority awards electricity contracts for 2,400 megawatt of power to 184 large-scale projects under the feed-in tariff program, enough power for 600,000 homes. Half of the power is set to come from onshore wind projects.
July 2010 – Ontario unexpectedly announces it will slash the rate it pays to homeowners, farmers and small business for electricity they produce from ground-mounted solar systems by 27 percent to 58.8 Canadian cents per kilowatt hour. After coming under fire for proposing a cut just nine months after the launch of the micro FIT program, aimed at small producers of renewable energy, the province compromises on a smaller-than-planned rate cut.
September 2010 – Japan initiates a trade dispute against Canada, arguing that Ontario’s Green Energy Act unfairly discriminates against producers of green energy equipment outside of Ontario. As part of the plan to create jobs, the act demands that a certain percentage of equipment used in projects in Ontario be made in the province.
February 11, 2011 – Ontario unexpectedly slaps a moratorium on offshore wind projects pending further scientific research on the industry. On-shore wind projects are not affected.
May 10, 2011 – The opposition Progressive Conservative party, calling the FIT program wasteful and expensive, says it will scrap it if the party wins the Oct. 6 Ontario provincial election. The Conservatives also say they will scrap the Samsung agreement as they believe it is not a contract but rather a memorandum of understanding. They pledge to honor existing contracts.
October 6, 2011 – Election day in Ontario. The Liberal Party is re-elected, but with fewer seats in the legislature.
October 31, 2001 – Consultation begins for Ontario’s FIT program and continues to December 14. More than 200 written submissions are received and 80 meetings held with various groups.
March 22, 2012 – Ontario announces changes to its FIT plan following its first-ever review.
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