THUNDER BAY – The Ontario Power Authority (OPA) must fully disclose the financial assumptions it used to justify the price cut to Ontario’s renewable energy feed-in tariff (“microFIT”) program, says Gord Miller, the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario. “People will lose confidence in Ontario’s commitment to green energy,” he warned. “We need the full financial details used to justify this price cut.”
On July 2nd, the OPA proposed reducing the tariff rate for solar energy under Ontario’s microFIT program. It said the change would lower the unreasonably high rates of return that project developers receive on their investment.
Interested parties have until August the 3rd to comment on the proposed changes, but Miller says “you can’t have effective consultations if all the facts are not being released.” Using the powers of investigation given to him by the Environmental Bill of Rights, the ECO requested on July 16th that the OPA fully disclose the financial assumptions and methodology it used to calculate the new lower price. “So far,” says Miller, “I have not received a response.”
With the new rate, ground-mounted solar installations would receive 58.8 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh) for the electricity they produce. The earlier tariff of 80.2 ¢/kWh would only be paid for rooftop solar installations. This 27 per cent cut in revenue affects installations that generate less than 10 kilowatts (kW) of electricity, and typically are installed on residential properties, farms and small businesses. About 11,000 applicants proposing to install ground-mounted solar power would be affected by this looming cut.
Ontario’s solar industry has hastily called a town hall meeting to discuss the causes, impacts, and solutions to the rate change. It will take place Thursday, July 22 from 7 – 10 pm at the Hilton Garden Inn in Vaughan, Ontario. More than 200 people have already registered for the event.