700 Ontarians from Ottawa to Windsor to Thunder Bay--including a member of the popular band Barenaked Ladies--received offers to generate renewable electricity under the province’s new feed-in tariff program.
The new microFIT program encourages the development of small-scale renewable energy (10 kilowatts or less) from a diverse range of producers, including homeowners, schools, farmers and small businesses. It is part of a broader Ontario feed-in tariff program (FIT), the most comprehensive program of its kind in North America. FIT is also aimed at encouraging community-owned and aboriginal-led projects.
The Ontario Power Authority has received nearly 1,200 microFIT applications since the program began accepting applications on October 1, mostly for residential roof-top solar power systems. These proposed projects have a combined capacity of about 8.6 megawatts (MW), enough to power about 1,000 average homes.
“It's a thrill to be able to power my own lights while at the same time contributing to my city's electrical needs,” said Jim Creeggan, bassist for the band Barenaked Ladies. “Now that the microFIT program is up and running, it makes solar a realistic option for more households. With enough homeowners on board, communities will have a greater impact on where our power is coming from.”
The FIT program, one of the cornerstones of the Green Energy Act, provides stable, guaranteed pricing to renewable energy producers of all sizes. 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 are expected to support the creation of 50,000 “green collar” jobs.
“The new microFIT program literally brings power to the people,” said Gerry Phillips, Minister of Energy and Infrastructure. “It allows homeowners, farmers, schools and Mom and Pop businesses to help power our future and get paid for it, while investing in a new era of ‘green collar’ jobs and expertise.”
“The tremendous initial response to the feed-in tariff signals a strong future for renewable energy in Ontario,” said Ontario Power Authority CEO Colin Andersen. “We’ve cut the red tape and made it simpler for ordinary Ontarians to become electricity producers and they’ve raced to embrace green energy."
Between October 1 when the program launched and December 1, the Ontario Power Authority also received about 1,000 applications for projects over 10 kilowatts (kW). This large number of applications ensures there will be more than enough high-quality projects to deliver the 2,500 MW of renewable energy earmarked for the first round of the FIT program. These larger scale FIT applications are still being assessed.
The Ontario Power Authority estimates that the first FIT projects will generate in excess of $5 billion in investments in manufacturing, design, construction and engineering and lead to the creation of thousands of new jobs.