Two Renewable Projects Get Go-Ahead In Northwestern Ontario

Large Solar Panel Array - flickr photo by laurenatclemson

The future will be brighter for many businesses in Ontario as more than 500 new green energy projects, most of them solar power installations, were recently approved. Of those projects, two are solar projects in Thunder Bay-Superior North, one in Dorion Township and the other Terrace Bay.

These 510 projects are the first larger power generators to obtain contracts through Ontario’s landmark Feed-In Tariff (FIT) program, the most comprehensive of its kind in North America. FIT encourages the development of renewable energy projects from a diverse range of producers, including homeowners, schools, farmers, large retailers and small businesses, by offering long-term, stable prices for the electricity generated.

“Everybody is participating, from everywhere in Ontario, from farmers, schools and hospitals to large scale retail and commercial operations,” said Brad Duguid, Minister of Energy and Infrastructure. “These projects will create a new source of income while providing new clean and green electricity in Ontario particularly on hot, sunny summer days when demand soars. With our new domestic content rules, these projects will also help create new ‘green collar’ jobs here in Ontario, as well as major economic investments in equipment and services here at home.”

Michael Gravelle, MPP Thunder Bay-Superior North – “These projects bring the benefits of Ontario’s Feed-in Tariff program to northwestern Ontario. Our province’s electricity future will be spurred by initiatives like these that capture the rays of the sun, the force of wind, water and of renewable gases to light our homes and power our businesses. Everyone in the northwestern Ontario should take pride in these developments and look forward to those still to come.”

The 510 projects are to be built in 120 communities across Ontario by farmers, municipalities, local distribution companies, commercial businesses, industrial customers, public institutions such as schools and hospitals, a winery and even a church. The projects range from 10 kilowatts to 500 kilowatts and have a total generating capacity of 112 megawatts, enough energy to power more than 13,000 homes. About 95 percent of the projects are for solar generation. The remaining projects are biogas (20), water (4), onshore wind (3) and biomass (1). A detailed list of the projects is available on the Ontario Power Authority’s website at www.fit.powerauthority.on.ca

The successful applicants from northwestern Ontario were, Cyntech Corporation of Dorion Township, for a 250 kilowatts solar project and TNT Properties of Terrace Bay, for a 40 kilowatts solar project.

The Feed-in Tariff program’s domestic content requirements ensure that a key portion of the technology used for renewable energy generation comes from Ontario. Developers must meet a certain percentage of made-in Ontario goods and labour at the time the project reach commercial operation. For solar photovoltaic projects larger than 10 kilowatts, the requirement is 50 per cent today, which will increase to 60 per cent on Jan. 1, 2011.

“The Ontario Power Authority is very excited about this announcement. Over the last year, we consulted, developed and launched the program. These first FIT contracts really bring the program to life and highlight its success,” said Colin Andersen, CEO of the Ontario Power Authority.

The Ontario Power Authority began accepting FIT applications on Oct. 1, 2009 and received 956 eligible applications for the first round of FIT contracts, including the 510 projects announced recently. Due to their size (up to 500 kilowatts), these projects can be connected to Ontario’s electricity grid without detailed impact assessments necessary for larger projects.

The FIT program, one of the cornerstones of Ontario’s Green Energy Act, provides stable, guaranteed pricing to renewable energy producers. 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 will support the creation of 50,000 “green collar” jobs.

The OPA is responsible for ensuring a reliable, sustainable supply of electricity for Ontario. Its four key areas of focus are: planning the power system for the long term, leading and co-ordinating conservation initiatives across the province, ensuring development of needed generation resources, and supporting the continued evolution of the electricity sector.

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