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Ontario is replacing its existing feed-in tariff (FIT) program for large-scale renewable energy projects with a competitive procurement process.

According to Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli, the province will work with the Ontario Power Authority (OPA) and municipalities to develop a competitive procurement process for renewable projects over 500 kW. Chiarelli says the new plan will require 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 kV 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; and

- Provide funding to help small and midsize 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 the Small FIT and 50 MW for the microFIT.

"Ontario’s progressive approach to renewable energy development has successfully attracted billions in new investment and helped revitalize the manufacturing sector and wind energy is now a very cost-competitive source of clean, renewable electricity generation," says Robert Hornung, president of CanWEA.

"We look forward to reviewing details of the announcement today and working with the government and all stakeholders in the days ahead to establish new long-term renewable energy targets and stable and ongoing new procurement opportunities through processes that will help ensure that projects are developed in a responsible and sustainable manner," Hornung continues.

Ontarios' FIT program, the first in North America, was ushered in as part of Green Energy Act (GEA) of 2009.

While the GEA - and by extension, the FIT - has helped Ontario surpass 2 GW of installed wind energy capacity by the end of this year, several facets of the act have been controversial.

For instance, critics have said the GEA’s implementation has moved too slowly for wind developers and that it is costly to ratepayers. Another chief criticism has been that the GEA and then-McGuinty government took the control over energy planning - including wind power development - away from municipalities, some of which opposed wind energy.

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