FAQs on version 2 of the microFIT Program


1.  What are the major changes to the microFIT Program?

Key changes to the microFIT Program include:

  • Solar prices for new microFIT contracts have been reduced to reflect lower operating and capital costs (54.9 cents per kilowatt-hour for rooftop microFIT projects and 44.5 cents per kilowatt-hour for ground-mounted microFIT projects).

  • Individuals and farmers are now limited to one microFIT contract.

  • Municipalities, universities, schools and colleges, hospitals and long-term care homes, social or affordable housing and Aboriginal communities can lease the land on which their project is located. Individuals and farmers still need to own the land where their project is located. Renewable energy co-ops must locate their projects on property owned by the co-operative. Farm co-ops must locate their projects on land that is owned by a member of the co-operative.

  • There are new restrictions on where ground-mounted solar projects, or wind projects of 3 kW or less, can be located. 

    • They are permitted on agricultural lands, provided that any residential use on such lands is a secondary use to the agriculture.  

    • They are not permitted on or adjacent to property on which residential use is a lawfully permitted use. 

    •  They are permitted on property on which commercial and industrial use is a lawfully permitted use as long as the project is not the main, primary or only purpose for which the property is used.  

  • The OPA will no longer be issuing conditional offers. Rather, the OPA will issue an Application Approval Notice following applicants receiving an Offer to Connect for their proposed project from their local distribution company (LDC).

  • Applicants will be required to seek an Offer to Connect from their LDC within 30 days of the OPA confirming that their application has passed the initial completeness and eligibility reviews. This will be followed by a 90-day period during which the applicant must receive an Offer to Connect. After the OPA issues an Application Approval Notice, the applicant must construct the project and obtain the Electrical Safety Authority (ESA) Connection Authorization within 180 days.

  • microFIT prices will be reviewed annually, with prices published in November that will take effect on January 1 of the following year.

  • Now that the microFIT Program has been relaunched, the OPA will provide for the awarding of 50 MW of microFIT contracts as soon as possible.

 
2. What changed between the draft and the final Rules?

  • Based on comments received during the comment period, a number of clarifications have been made to the final Rules. In addition, several definitions have been clarified.

  • A key change from the draft to the final version of the microFIT Rules is on the timelines for the microFIT process. Applicants will be required to seek an Offer to Connect from their local distribution company (LDC) within 30 days of the OPA confirming that their application has passed the initial completeness and eligibility reviews. This will be followed by a 90-day period during which the applicant must receive and accept an Offer to Connect. This change is to provide sufficient time for LDCs to process Offer to Connect requests from microFIT applicants.

3. So what is the application process now?

  • New applicants who are interested in applying to the microFIT Program first need to register using the online tool to create a unique “My microFIT Home Page”, user name and password. Once registered, applicants can apply to the program using the online application form.
     
  • Following submission of an online microFIT application, the OPA will review the form for completeness and eligibility, and determine if there is capacity available within the planning target.
     
  • Applicants will be notified by the OPA that their application has passed the initial completeness and eligibility review. At that point, applicants will have 30 days to apply for an Offer to Connect from their local distribution company (LDC).

  • There is then a 90-day period during which applicants must receive an Offer to Connect from their LDC.

  • The LDC will notify the OPA directly that the Offer to Connect has been issued, and the OPA will issue an Application Approval Notice. The Application Approval Notice is valid for 180 days from the date of issue. Once issued, the application status will be set to Pending Connection.

  • Applicants will then build their project and will be required to provide their Electrical Safety Authority (ESA) Connection Authorization to the OPA within 180 days of the date on which the Application Approval Notice was issued. This is the date on which the application is set to Pending Connection.   

  • Applicants will then have their LDC connect their project to the distribution system.

  • Once the OPA receives the ESA Connection Authorization, ensures that the applicant still meets eligibility requirements, and the project has been connected by the LDC and meets all conditions, a contract will be issued to the applicant.

4. Why can’t I have more than one project?

  • Limiting microFIT projects to one per individual and one per farmer will enable more Ontarians to participate in the clean energy economy and will help maintain the intent and focus of the program.

5. Where can ground-mounted projects now be located?

  • Ground-mounted microFIT solar projects are permitted on agricultural lands, provided that any residential use on such lands is a secondary use to the agriculture.
  • Ground-mounted microFIT solar projects are not permitted on or adjacent to property on which residential use is a lawfully permitted use.
  • A ground-mounted solar project is permitted on property on which commercial and industrial use is a lawfully permitted use as long as the project is not the main, primary or only purpose for which the property is used.
  • Properties where residential, commercial and industrial uses are permitted can host rooftop solar projects.

6. Why will conditional offers no longer be issued?

  • The OPA has simplified the microFIT review and approval process. Applicants will now receive an Application Approval Notice following their receipt of an Offer to Connect from their local distribution company (LDC). The Application Approval Notice will be valid for 180 days, and in that time applicants must construct the project and obtain the Electrical Safety Authority (ESA) Connection Authorization.

  • Requiring applicants to submit the ESA Connection Authorization, rather than the completed connection notice from the LDC, will make it easier for applicants to meet the 180-day timeline.

  • The OPA will review each application to determine whether it is eligible and complete and that capacity is available within the current annual procurement target. Applicants will be required to seek an Offer to Connect from their LDC within 30 days of the OPA confirming that their application has passed the initial completeness and eligibility reviews. This will be followed by a 90-day period during which the applicant must receive an Offer to Connect from their LDC. The LDC will inform the OPA if the Offer to Connect has been granted or denied.

7. Do I still need to own the land that the project will be located on?

  • Yes, individuals, farmers, LDC participants and faith-based organizations still need to own the land on which their microFIT project will be located.

  • Applicants from municipalities, universities, schools, hospitals, long-term care homes, social or affordable housing and Aboriginal communities can submit applications on land that is either owned or leased by the applicant.

  • Renewable energy co-ops must locate their projects on property owned by the co-operative. Farm co-ops must locate their project on land that is owned by a member of the co-operative.
     

8. Are domestic content requirements remaining the same?

  • Yes, domestic content requirements have not changed as a result of the FIT Review and remain at 60 percent for all solar (PV) technologies.

  • A new domestic content grid for concentrated solar PV (CPV) and for Thin-Film PV Technology is now included in the microFIT Program.

9. Have any changes been made to the program eligibility requirements?

  • Individuals and farmers are now limited to one microFIT contract.

  • Other changes made to the Eligible Participant Schedule include:

    • Farm co-ops have now been included.

    • Applicants from municipalities, universities, schools, hospitals, long-term care homes, social or affordable housing and Aboriginal communities can submit applications on land that is either owned or leased by the applicant.

  • The eligibility and evidence requirements of the Eligible Participant Schedule are very specific and applicants are encouraged to review them carefully before applying. Applicants who are unsure of their eligibility are encouraged to consult legal counsel to confirm that their specific requirements are met. In particular, the issue of ownership interests, riparian rights and regulatory approvals for proposed waterpower microFIT Projects can be complex, and those considering such projects are strongly encouraged to seek legal counsel.  
     

10. What are the restrictions for projects on residential lands?

  • The restrictions apply to:

    • Ground-mounted solar PV projects

    • Wind projects up to and including 3 kW (i.e., in the microFIT program; and noting that there are other restrictions for wind projects greater than 3 kW set out in the Renewable Energy Approval Regulation, O. Reg. 359/09)

  • The restrictions for residential land are:

    • A project may not be located on a property on which residential use is a lawfully permitted use; and

    • A project may not be located on a property that abuts another property on which residential use is a lawfully permitted use.

    • However, for property where the primary lawfully permitted use is agricultural, the above projects are permitted on the property or on an abutting property if residential use is permitted as ancillary to the agricultural use.

  • To ensure compliance with the residential land restrictions, applicants will be required to obtain, using the prescribed forms, either:

    • A written opinion of a Land Use Planner or a director of planning or equivalent municipal official; or

    • A written certification of a chief building official, municipal chief administrative officer, municipal clerk, or equivalent official of each municipality in which the project is located, in whole or in part.
       

11. What are the restrictions for projects on commercial and industrial lands?

  • Where a ground-mounted solar PV project is proposed on a property on which commercial use or industrial use is a lawfully permitted use, the proposed facility may not be the main, primary or only purpose for which the property is used.

  • These restrictions apply to ground-mounted solar PV projects (all sizes, in both the microFIT and FIT programs).

  • To ensure compliance with the commercial/industrial land restrictions, applicants will be required to obtain, using the prescribed forms, either:

    • A written opinion of a Land Use Planner or a director of planning or equivalent municipal official; or

    • A written certification of a chief building official, municipal chief administrative officer, municipal clerk, or equivalent official of each municipality in which the project is located, in whole or in part.

 

12. What evidence do applicants need to provide to prove that their proposed project is not subject to any land-use restrictions?

  • If applying for a ground-mounted solar PV project (up to and including 10 kW) or a wind project up to and including 3 kW, the following evidence is required using standard prescribed forms that are available on the OPA’s website:

    • A written opinion of a Land Use Planner or a director of planning or equivalent municipal official; or

    • A written certification of a chief building official, municipal chief administrative officer, municipal clerk, or equivalent official of each municipality in which the project is located, in whole or in part.

 

13. Will digital signatures be accepted on prescribed forms?

  • Electronic signatures will not be accepted on any prescribed form submitted as part of a microFIT Application on or after August 11, 2012, until standards are developed for determining the reliability of such electronic signatures.  Applicants must sign, scan and submit the required prescribed forms with their Application in order to be reviewed under the microFIT Program Rules version 2.0.
     

14. What if I don’t submit the supporting documentation required for my participant type with my application. Can I send this information by fax or mail?

  • The OPA will not be accepting any supporting documentation by fax or mail. Applications must include all required supporting documentation and evidence at the time of submission per section 3.2(b) of the microFIT Rules. The supporting documentation is required to complete your Application and assess the eligibility of your Application. The only acceptable format that the documents can be provided in is PDF and must be uploaded at Section 6 of the Application. The online application system will not allow you to upload documents that are not in PDF format. To determine the documentation that is required as part of your Application, you are encouraged to review the Eligible Participant Schedule

  • Applications where required forms or documents are incomplete or completed incorrectly will be terminated. You may reapply and submit a new application with complete documentation at any time.
      

15. I am receiving emails that I have a new microFIT message. When I create a Registration ID, I don’t see any messages in my inbox.  How can I retrieve them?
  • All microFIT Applications are linked to a unique Registration ID that is created at the time of registration.  If your Application was submitted by an agent or a representative acting on your behalf, you must contact them directly to receive the username and password that is associated with your Application.  Once you have received these credentials, you can view your messages by logging onto the “My microFIT Home Page” at www.mymicroFIT.powerauthority.on.ca and then clicking on the “My microFIT Messages” inbox. 

  • Please be reminded that if an agent or representative is acting on your behalf, they are required to provide you with the username and password associated with your Application. For further clarity, reference the microFIT Prescribed Form: Application Declaration. Applicants are responsible for retaining and protecting their username and passwords and providing updated contact information at all times. 

  • Applicants can submit an email to microFIT@powerauthority.on.ca, if they decide to withdraw from the microFIT Program at any time. 
     

16. My Application Approval Notice is valid for 180 days. When does this 180 days begin?

When your application status is updated to Pending Connection, an Application Approval Notice has been issued. The 180-day timeframe begins on the date on which the Application Approval Notice was issued and the application status was set to Pending Connection. 

As per the microFIT Rules, you are required to obtain your Electrical Safety Authority (ESA) Connection Authorization within 180 days of the issuance of your Application Approval Notice.

See FAQs on existing microFIT applications submitted September 1, 2011.
 

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