Ontario's policy framework for community power and renewable energy started with Ontario's Renewable Energy Standard Offer Program in 2006. This was followed by the passing of Ontario's Green Energy and Economy Act in 2009. Ontario's Green Energy and Economy Act amended a number of other Acts including the Ontario Co-operative Corporations Act in order to make it easier to develop renewable energy co-operatives. Ontario's Long Term Energy Plan was tabled in 2011. Since 2009, Ontario has used a feed-in-tariff as its sole means of procuring electricity from renewable energy sources.
The Renewable Energy Standard Offer Program (2006)
The implementation of the Renewable Energy Standard Offer Program (RESOP) on November 22, 2006 signified the first important policy shift in the advancement of renewable energy owned and controlled by Ontarians.
Hailed as the first true feed-in tariff in North America, the RESOP offered wind, hydro, solar PV and biomass generators, with projects under 10 MW, guaranteed long-term prices for their clean electricity. By the end of 2008, approximately 1,400 MW of new renewable energy had been contracted under the RESOP
The Green Energy and Economy Act (2009)
On May 14, 2009, the Government of Ontario adopted Bill 150, the Green Energy and Green Economy Act (GEA) with the intention of expanding renewable energy production, encouraging energy conservation, and creating green jobs throughout the province.
Incorporating lessons learned from the RESOP and policy mechanisms from jurisdictions with ambitious renewable energy targets such as Germany, Denmark and Spain, the GEA:
- Created a feed-in tariff (FIT) program guaranteeing rates for solar, wind, biogas, biomass, landfill gas, and water power through 20-year contracts with the Ontario Power Authority
- Established the 'right to connect' to the electricity grid for all renewable energy generators that meet technical and economic requirements
- Established a 'one-stop' streamlined approvals process for small-scale renewable energy projects that meet regulatory requirements
- Amended the Co-operative Corporations Act to authorize the incorporation of renewable energy co-operatives
Ontario's Long Term Energy Plan (2011)
Ontario's Long Term Energy Plan and the February 17th, 2011 "Supply Mix Directive" sets the province's current target for clean, renewable energy from wind, solar and bioenergy at 10,700 MW, and that from water power at 9,000 MW by 2018.
The Emergence of Renewable Energy Co-operatives (2009)
One of the most significant provisions in the GEEA for the advancement of community power is the amendment made to the Co-operative Corporations Act authorizing the incorporation of renewable energy co-operatives.
It exempts renewable energy co-ops from the standard co-operative 'business with members' rule, previously a major barrier to delivering community power projects through the co-op model.
The 'business with members' rule requires that co-operatives do business primarily with their members. Because all electricity generated in Ontario is fed directly into the provincial power grid, it is impossible for a solar co-op, for example, to deliver the solar power it generates directly to its members.
The GEA's amendment to the Co-operative Corporations Act, therefore, allows renewable energy co-ops to generate and sell as much electricity as they are able to the grid, regardless of the amount of electricity their members consume.
FIT 1.0 (2009)
North America's first comprehensive guaranteed pricing structure for renewable energy was launched by the Province of Ontario in September 2009.
It offered 20-year contracts with the Ontario Power Authority to all types of generators, from homeowners to large developers, for electricity generated from bioenergy, solar, wind and water power. Key features of the first iteration of the FIT program include:
- Different prices for different technologies and different project sizes
- A pricing structure intended to cover total project costs and provide a reasonable rate of return over a 20-year period (40-year period for waterpower)
- An 'open window' application process
- A price adder for community-based and Aboriginal and Metis projects
FIT 2.0 (2012)
Version 2.0 of the FIT Rules, Contract, and other program documents are now final and effective and have been posted here on the Ontario Power Authority FIT website.
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