5 July 2010 – Last Friday the OPA proposed a new price category of 58.8 ¢/kWh for MicroFIT (≤10 kW) applications that are ground mounted. This new category distinguishes roof mount and ground mount MicroFIT applications for the first time. The current FIT Rate for all MicroFIT contracts is 80.2 ¢/kWh. The proposed rate for MicroFIT ground mount represents the second lowest rate in the program
The OPA has noted that the proposed FIT Rate is “fair, reasonable and more accurately reflects the costs associated with ground-mounted projects.” There has been concern within the industry that the FIT Rates may have been more generous than not, and that they could be reduced quickly as a result. The PV Industry is sensitive to change in FIT programs as changes to these rates can dramatically affect demand. While there may have been some expectation of a change on the MicroFIT rate, at the same time this proposed change is almost certain to generate controversy and concern.
That concern being at least partly motivated by the need to satisfy Domestic Content requirements and the concomitant need for industry participants to establish manufacturing capabilities within Ontario.
There appears to have been a rush in this implementation as the proposed webinars come less than a week after the announcement. Such haste may have been motivated by the now more than 16,000 applications that the FIT Program has received.
The haste is underscored by the short time between notice and public discussion, and by an inconsistency in the email distribution. The OPA announcement also advised that “The OPA will be holding webinars on July 6 and July 8, 2010 to discuss the introduction of this proposed new price category and answer questions.” Moreover, the OPA’s automated email distribution does not appear to have sent out the July 2nd notice to at least some of the people that have signed up for this service.
As the OPA does not regularly use a news dissemination service, those following the program are reliant upon the email distribution. Also, as the OPA has split its web site between MicroFIT and FIT program, this notice has only been posted on the MicroFIT portion. As of the time this article was written, visitors to the regular FIT Program site will not find the proposed change posted there.