Time to stop digging

With the input deadline now a full week behind us, there has been little news from the Ontario Power Authority (OPA) on their proposed changes to the Feed-in-Tariff for residential PV ground-mount systems.

Resubmit deadline extended

The only notice provided by the OPA thus far has been: “The deadline to resubmit microFIT applications has been extended to September 7, 2010, at 5 p.m.”

This decision to further extend the resubmit deadline appears to respect concerns expressed during the initial feedback sessions on July 6 and 8. At that time a number of industry participants observed that it would be difficult to finalize an application when the rates were not yet firm.

There has been no official comment from the OPA on the number of applications affected. It is probable that many of the 11,000 applications affected by the proposed rate change had not yet been re-submitted. There has been uncertainty about the final tariff rate decision and the magnitude of the tariff rate changes almost certainly impacted project economics meaningfully. Financing availability at the proposed rate may also hinder the re-submissions.

While the applicants affected now have more time to consider the proposed changes, the one-month extension is certain to cause ongoing uncertainty within the Ontario industry and angst over the impending Domestic Content increases. The one month extension is a one-month reduction in the time to get projects completed before the Domestic Content requirements become more stringent.

There has also been no hint of what impact, if any, the feedback provided to the OPA has had on the proposed change. The OPA has not provided a summary of the feedback or a statement on what the official rates will now be.

Petition launched

Meanwhile, a web petition was launched on July 15 at http://www.microfitaction.com/ requesting reconsideration of the proposed tariff change. The web site advises that 1,314 signatures had been received and the signed petition was to be delivered to the OPA and the Ontario Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure on July 29.

A primary reason cited for the change in tariff rates was the potential increase in revenue generated from tracking systems. The increased maintenance costs for tracking systems did not appear to be considered under the original proposed change. The economy of scale for installation and maintenance of single 10 kW tracker installations are other economic factors that will need to be satisfactorily accounted for. Participants in the feedback sessions did request transparency on the OPA’s economic model.

Domestic Content

Meanwhile, as anticipated, there continues to be a steady stream of announcements on new commitments to manufacture in Ontario. Moreover, active Ontario content marketing is continuing in the inverter space. Following on Schneider proclamation that its wares were ‘Ontario FIT Compliant’ at the recent Intersolar North America exhibition, Enphase now has a web banner advertising campaign announcing “FIT Approved”.

For those looking to apply for a manufacturer’s domestic content approval, however, please note that there is no such official compliance certification.

Stay tuned to Ontario. The situation continues to be dynamic, and there is a lot of information yet to be released.

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