On 2 July 2010 the Ontario Power Authority (OPA) announced proposed changes to its MicroFIT program to separate and provide a reduced tariff rate for PV MicroFIT ground mount projects. In parallel, the OPA introduced a new definition for Rooftop Facility for all FIT projects:
Rooftop Facility means a solar (PV) Renewable Generating Facility that is integrated into or forms part of the wall facing, roof, cover, or other architectural element that forms part of a permanent Existing Building that has been designed to be used for the purpose of providing enclosure, shelter or protection to people or property, provided that one of its main purposes is not to support a solar power installation or to provide shelter from the sun. An Existing Building will be considered to have a main purpose of supporting a solar power installation or providing shelter from the sun where the building or part of that building would not reasonably have been constructed in the absence of the solar (PV) Renewable Generating Facility.
Even though FIT projects, unlike MicroFIT projects, were already separated between roof and ground mount, even the consistent application of this new definition will almost certainly generate further controversy.
Some agricultural operators, for example, have expressed interest in FIT and MicroFIT applications. Typical existing agricultural structures, however, may not provide adequate loading support for a roof mount PV project. Thus, there are compelling circumstances where agricultural operators are motivated to renovate or replace existing buildings, or construct new buildings, where specific engineering and construction methods are employed to provide support for a solar project. As there are FIT program restrictions on Class 1, 2 and 3 farmland, the subtleties of this new rooftop definition may draw further negative attention from the Ontario agriculture community.
Further definition changes will almost certainly springboard from this MicroFIT program change.
In fact, the definition for the very next item on the list – Sales Taxes – is not in sync with Ontario’s July 1st adoption of the Harmonized Sales Tax (HST). Ontario’s HST adoption has generated considerable controversy and awareness (CBC: Controversial HST bill passed in Ontario), but HST is not yet even mentioned in the FIT guidelines.
As the Sales Tax definition comes right after the OPA’s new Rooftop Facility definition, this is one needed definition change that may not be missed by anyone seeking to understand the latest Ontario MicroFIT changes. With the increased focus the MicroFIT program change has generated, the OPA staff, already overwhelmed by the rush of applications and now an additional MicroFIT application review process, may be in for a long summer.