CanSIA’s chairman backs Ontario’s FITs review

Ontario's position as a North American test bed for subsidised solar power is overcoming early hurdles and heading in the right direction, according to leading industry figure.

Speaking to edie energy chairman of the Canadian Solar Industry Association (CanSIA), Jon Kieran, said the province, virtually the only place in the region actively promoting a Feed-In Tariff (FIT), was set for a solar boom.

His confidence comes now months of uncertainty around Ontario’s FIT scheme has been cleared after the ruling Liberal party retained power – albeit as a minority administration.

Had the Liberals lost power the most likely victors the, now opposition, Conservatives had said they would scrap FITs.

But even with the victory it is not plain sailing for solar schemes.

While plans for a new wave of FITs have been in place in Ontario since the Green Energy and Green Economy Act of 2009, a consultation launched on October 31 is currently reviewing the scheme.

That review, while not expected to be anywhere near as harsh as the UK’s ‘consultation’, is however adding an element of doubt to potential investors.

Another dark cloud is the fact the FITs schemes, initially devised in 2009, are only now breaking ground due to Ontario’s strict planning system.

Mr Kieran, who also works as director of solar for EDF EN Canada, was also responsible for the area’s, now discontinued, fore runner to FITs the Ontario Solar Thermal Heating Incentive (OSTHI) when he worked at the region’s Ministry of Energy.

Speaking near his office in Toronto he said: “A programme is better than a policy.

“It can take 24 months to get projects built as you need to look at connectivity, permitting and other issues.

“But we’re working towards stability in Ontario’s PV market to avoid boom and bust, but we’ve no reference for what we’re doing in North America.”

Part of that drive says Mr Kieran is Ontario rule that 60% of an overall solar scheme must be made in the province which, he says, can’t be achieved solely through the installation.

“The industry has to be honest as well prices are coming down for us so we have to bring down prices for customers.

“That is why I welcome the current two year review process and, in fact, I would like to see it reviewed more regularly, perhaps even quarterly.”

Luke Walsh

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