Recurrent Energy said June 4 that commercial operation has begun at six photovoltaic (PV) projects, providing a total of 70 MW peak (MWp)/52 MW AC (MWac) of solar electricity for two communities in Ontario, Canada.
These projects are the first six of nine to reach their commercial operation date (COD) in a 100 MWp/74 MWac portfolio acquired by Mitsubishi Corp. and Osaka Gas at commercial operation of each project as agreed in June 2012. The electricity generated from this portfolio will be delivered to the Ontario Power Authority (OPA) through 20-year feed-in tariff agreements.
“I’m happy to congratulate Recurrent Energy on achieving this significant milestone. It’s clear that Ontario’s clean energy policies are creating thousands of good jobs and cleaning up our air,” said provincial Minister of Energy Bob Chiarelli. “We’re building on that strength by making important changes – like setting annual renewable energy procurement targets for the first time – to bring greater predictability and sustainability to Ontario’s clean energy sector.”
“The completion of this portfolio is a milestone for utility-scale solar in Ontario and Recurrent Energy,” said Arno Harris, CEO of Recurrent Energy. “Ontario’s commitment to making clean energy a mainstream source for these communities is coming to fruition.”
These six projects are located near Smiths Falls and Waubaushene, Ontario. The remaining three projects in the portfolio are expected to reach COD by early 2014.
The entire 100 MWp/74 MWac portfolio is expected to generate more than 124 million kWh during the first year of operation, enough to power approximately 12,300 homes in Ontario.
Including this portfolio, Recurrent Energy said it currently has 20 projects totaling 220 MWp/159 MWac in development in Ontario. All 20 projects are expected to be operating by early 2014.
Ontario to revamp its Feed-In Tariff program
Incidentally, the Ontario Ministry of Energy said May 30 that it is increasing local control over future renewable energy projects to support municipalities and secure the province’s clean energy future. Working with the OPA and municipalities, the province will develop a competitive procurement process for renewable projects over 500 kW. The new process will replace the existing large project stream of the Feed-In Tariff (FIT) program. It will require energy planners and developers to work directly with municipalities to identify appropriate locations and site requirements for any future large renewable energy project.
To further strengthen municipal participation and support communities, Ontario will:
- Revise the Small FIT program rules for projects between 10 kW and 500 kW to give priority to projects partnered or led by municipalities.
- Work with municipalities to determine a property tax rate increase for wind turbine towers.
- Provide funding to help small and medium-sized municipalities develop Municipal Energy Plans – which will focus on increasing conservation and helping to identify the best energy infrastructure options for a community.
Ontario is also renewing its commitment to small renewable energy projects by making 900 MW of new capacity available, between now and 2018, for the Small FIT and microFIT programs. This fall, the OPA will open a new procurement window for both programs, and starting in 2014, annual procurement targets will be set at 150 MW for Small FIT and 50 MW for microFIT. The OPA’s fall procurement window will be for 70 MW for Small FIT and 30 MW for microFIT.
Over the past 10 years, Ontario has brought more than 3,300 MW of renewable energy online — enough to power 900,000 homes each year. Coal-fired electricity, which the province plans to phase out by the end of this year for greenhouse gas reduction purposes, currently makes up less than 3% of Ontario’s power generation, down from 25% in 2003.