The Feed-in Tariff (FIT) program update is a positive and natural progression of the FIT program and a victory for communities, First Nations and progressive renewable energy developers. “The Government’s re-engagement and willingness to improve the program is both very important and timely. This renewed commitment will further strengthen Ontario’s leadership role in renewable energy,” stated Kristopher Stevens, Ontario Sustainable Energy Association’s (OSEA) executive director.
Stevens observed, “Through our community and commercial members, OSEA advocated strongly during the FIT Review for an increased role for municipalities and local communities. We championed the role of local citizens as project proponents through a Community Power model and as more meaningful partners in projects with commercial developers. We are pleased the Government listened to OSEA.”
OSEA believes the enhanced role of municipalities combined with the changes that ease community and First Nations participation will fortify Ontario’s growing green economy. These improvements are important steps toward maximizing local benefits, creating jobs and addressing legitimate local concerns.
“OSEA is excited that more Ontario communities, including aboriginal ones, are now better positioned to develop community-based renewable energy projects,” stated Harry French, director of OSEA’s Community Power Services Group. French went on to say, “OSEA is ready to help by deploying the community engagement tools we have already developed. We expect they will be in high demand, with communities now a priority.”
The changes also mean OSEA looks forward to helping commercial developers better understand and deploy engagement and partnership best practices that enhance community benefits. “Shifting the contracting and the Renewable Energy Approvals process oversight to the Cabinet Office responds to a previous weakness. We trust this highlights the priority the Government is placing on renewable energy development and the priority it places on an orderly process and enhanced cross-Ministry coordination,” said Stevens.
OSEA is very excited about the new emphasis on energy storage and investment in smartening up Ontario’s grid. This represents a tremendous opportunity for Ontario inventors, entrepreneurs and manufacturers. The successful convergence and coordination of telecommunications, electricity, thermal energy, natural gas and water to best meet Ontario’s future energy needs represents billions of dollars in business opportunities across global markets.