Op-Ed

Ontario Feed-in Tariff Deserves Attention

I really appreciate the quality of your articles and generally read them cover to cover. I also appreciate your inclusion of items with Canadian information and news. However, in your recent feature article, “Making Your Own Electricity” (see

EBN Nov. 2009), I was very surprised and disappointed that you made no mention of Ontario’s recently enacted Green Energy Act, which includes a very progressive feed-in tariff (FIT) for renewable energy sources. I believe that it is the most progressive in North America, offers comparable rates to those in Germany, and is likely to have a very significant effect on the economic viability of renewables in the Province.

Charles Simon Architect + Planner

Eden Mills, Ontario

Editors’ Response:Thanks for pointing that out. Ontario’s feed-in tariff is indeed a standout in North America—and the world. Enacted in October 2009, the program offers options for small-scale renewable energy installations (less than 10 kW) under its “MicroFIT” program, with a separate “FIT” program for larger-scale projects. The tariff applies not only to photovoltaic (PV) panels but also to biogas, biomass, landfill gas, hydropower, and wind. Participants in the FIT and MicroFIT programs enter into a 20-year contract (40 years in the case of hydropower) to receive a fixed rate for the power they generate—up to $0.80 (CDN)/kWh for solar, with rates in the $0.10–$0.19/kWh range for other sources. Considering Ontario’s commitment to closing all its coal-fired power plants by 2014, the province is surely banking heavily on these generous rates to bring about a permanent shift away from carbon-intensive electric generation. Germany’s rates, among the world’s highest, have been falling, as planned, by about 8% annually. The U.S., on the other hand,

is now playing catch-up. A handful of states have proposed programs, but only three are in place: California pays a non-incentivized rate for installations of 1.5 MW or less, capped at 500 MW; Hawaii’s program is so new that rates have not yet been set; Vermont’s FIT was capped at 50 MW with only 12.5 MW allocated for PV—all of which were spoken for on the program’s inaugural day.

Published February 1, 2010

Add new comment

To post a comment, you need to register for a BuildingGreen Basic membership (free) or login to your existing profile.