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April 28, 2017
Opening Note from CanSIA President & CEO, John Gorman
In less than two weeks we will be welcoming attendees to Edmonton for the second consecutive year, for the 8th annual installment of Solar West, CanSIA's annual regional conference for the solar energy industry in Western Canada.  This year's conference promises to be more timely and more valuable than ever before.
 
The pace of policy, regulatory and market change for our industry continues to accelerate.  Arguably, there have been more advancements in the past seven months since Solar West 2016 than there have been in the past seven years. As a conference attendee, the insights and perspectives that you will glean will position you in the leading pack for the months and years that lie ahead.
 
We hope to see you there and remind you that the event is likely to be over-subscribed.  Please register early to avoid disappointment.  The final conference program is now available online.

Read on for further policy, market development and regulatory updates from the executive CanSIA team.
Policy & Market Development
Solar West 2017: CanSIA's Most Substantive Western Conference To DateSWest

Solar West 2017 from May 9th to 11th at the Westin Edmonton will bring together more than 400 industry leaders, policy-makers and stakeholders with a shared commitment to understand the significant potential of solar energy in Western Canada. Take advantage of this year's keynote addresses, conference and breakout sessions to learn about the evolving market opportunities and dynamics. Network during receptions and breaks to share your insights and perspectives. Let's reflect on how far we have come and what is on the horizon in this exciting time for solar.   

To find a full list of speakers and further information, visit www.solarwestconference.ca or view the final conference program online.

A 100% Renewable Federal Government by 2025: Policy & Procurement OptionsFed2025
In November 2016, the Federal Government announced their intent to become 100% Renewable by 2025.  Recognizing that the Federal Government will now be considering potential mechanisms to enable the implementation of this ambitious but achievable commitment, the Canadian Solar Industries Association (CanSIA) and the Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA) commissioned Power Advisory LLC, a leading North American management consulting firm that specializes in electricity sector matters and solutions, to undertake an assessment of potential policy and procurement options for meeting this commitment.  Their final report was considered by both Associations and recommendations were made to the Federal Government how to maximize jobs, investment and emissions displacement from meeting this commitment.  The Federal Government will be in good company as 100% Renewables becomes increasingly more mainstream: 12 Countries, 70 Cities, 62 Regions/States, 9 Utilities, 21 NonProfit/Educational/Public Institutions, totaling more than 256.8 million people (and counting...) have shifted or are committed to shifting within the next few decades to 100% renewable energy in at least one sector (e.g. electricity, transportation, heating/cooling); U.S. Mayors Announce New National Drive For 100% Clean Energy; and Washington State Spearheads a Novel Clean Energy Solution for Starbucks, REI and Target.

Nova Scotia Launches Solar for Community Buildings Pilot ProgramNS
Nova Scotia's Minister of Energy, Michel Samson, announced the launch of the Solar Electricity for Community Buildings Program, a commitment of the 2015 Electricity Plan. The goal of the program is to support community participation in renewable energy generation and to learn more about how solar electricity can help Nova Scotia in its clean energy transition.

The Solar for Community Buildings Program enables eligible community groups and organizations to generate solar photovoltaic (PV) electricity on their roofs or properties and sell it to their utility under a 20-year contract. The maximum size of project allowable under this program is 50 kW worth of panels with no minimum size. Eligible organizations include: Mi'kmaq bands in Nova Scotia, non-profit or charitable organizations, municipalities, universities or community colleges.

Eligible groups and organizations are invited to submit an application for review by May 31, 2017.
 
Click here to learn more about the Solar for Community Buildings Pilot Program and application process.

The Transition Takes Hold: Tracking the Energy Revolution 2017Tracking
At the end of March, Clean Energy Canada (CEC) released their annual "Tracking the Energy Revolution" report for 2017. In it, CEC examines the trends defining the energy landscape globally and what they mean for Canada - the largest and most impactful of these trends being the supplanting of fossil fuels by renewables. CEC demonstrates that in many markets, the tipping point between these technologies has arrived and that this same transition is close to occurring in many others. CEC also makes the case for why Canada's niche within this global transition may be using our technology and expertise to help other countries make the switch to renewables.

Utilities & Regulatory Affairs
Final Year of Ontario's microFIT Program - Reducing RisksmicroFIT
Ontario's microFIT Program is in its final year of operation and is set to end on December 31, 2017. At that point, no further applications will be accepted by the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO). During the last year of operation, the stakes for applicants and the solar industry have been raised due to the inability to resubmit an application if it is terminated too late in the year. This situation is most severe in instances where an application is terminated after money has been spent and a system has been built. In order to avoid this situation, solar developers, customers/applicants, Local Distribution Companies (LDCs) and the IESO need to maintain open and frequent communication to ensure that built projects do not miss the opportunity to receive or maintain their contract. Three examples of when a built project can have its application/contract terminated are described below.
  1. Solar developers and applicants must be aware that the IESO will terminate an application if it has not been connected, and that connection reported to the IESO by the LDC, within 180 days of receiving an application approval notice. Solar developers need to work closely with LDCs to ensure that requests to connect are made early and that they follow up with the LDC to ensure the connection is reported on time.
     
  2. The IESO will only notify the applicant directly when a contract has been offered. Solar developers need to ensure that their customers are aware of this and that the customer knows how to execute the contract when it is offered, and that they do so within the 45 day timeline.
     
  3. The IESO will only notify the supplier directly in instances of breach of contract. Breaches of contract can occur for even routine reasons (such as changes in the owners of a property that are not reported to the IESO). Contract holders need to monitor their primary email address frequently for any communications from the IESO and reach out to their solar company if they need assistance dealing with issues.
Changes to the microFIT Program's Assignment ProcessmicrFIT2
On April 6, 2017 the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) announced changes to the assignment process for microFIT Contracts by introducing the Prescribed Form: Assignee's Declaration. This form is being used to confirm certain details including that the assignee (the individual taking over the microFIT contract) has access to their username and password and is aware of the relevant details concerning their responsibilities under the contract.

Similarly to the declaration form that is completed as a part of the application process, this form must either be notarized or commissioned before submission. Program participants should note that this form will be required for all contract assignments going forward. The IESO has also posted instructions on how to execute this form on the web page linked above.

Ontario's First Cap and Trade Auction a SuccessCapAndTrade
On March 22, 2017 Ontario held its first Cap and Trade auction for emission allowances. The auction was a resounding success with all available 2017 allowances sold, as well as roughly 26% of the available 2020 allowances. The sale of these allowances resulted in revenues of just over $472 million.

This strong showing for the first iteration of the auction is important for a number of reasons. First and probably most importantly, it shows at least an early confidence in the mechanism from businesses. Buying 2020 emission allowances wasn't required in order to continue to operate but businesses securing those allowances points to their belief that they will be able to use them in 2020 (i.e. that the cap and trade mechanism will continue to operate in that timeframe). Secondly, the amount of revenue collected from the first auction exceeded that which was expected (due to the higher price for allowances that was bid by participants). This provides the government of Ontario and the soon to be set-up Ontario Climate Change Solutions Deployment Corporation a larger operating budget with which to fund GHG emissions reducing activities.

The first GHG reducing programs funded by Cap and Trade revenues are expected to launch later this year (potentially as early as the summer) and will likely focus on electricity and natural gas efficiency measures for residential buildings. Following the release of those programs, additional programs are expected before the end of the year. CanSIA continues to advocate for the establishment of a capital cost incentive for both solar PV and solar thermal technologies within these programs.

Ontario's Fair Hydro Plan May Not Help Manufacturershydrobill
Earlier this year the Ontario government announced the introduction of the Fair Hydro Plan which was to result in a 25% reduction to the average residential consumer's electricity bill. What was not clearly spelled out at that time is what the impacts to commercial/industrial electricity customers, specifically Class B customers, would be.

One group, the Coalition of Concerned Manufacturers (CCM), argues that the impacts for these customers will be small, somewhere in the neighbourhood of 2-4% (mostly from moving certain regulatory charges off the rate base and onto the tax base). Other commentators on the impacts of the Fair Hydro Plan for Class B customers tend to agree with the idea that the impacts will be much smaller than for residential customers. With this in mind, CanSIA's members currently focused on the commercial/industrial customer base should pay special attention to these customers' electricity charges as the Fair Hydro Plan is rolled out past May 1, 2017 to determine if they remain viable candidates for net metering.

Ontario EASR's Applicability for Net MeteringEASR
While Ontario's final net metering regulation has yet to be determined, solar developers are already out investigating project feasibility. As this happens, questions start to emerge with regards to how existing regulations will apply to net metered projects vs the FIT and microFIT projects that have been more popular to date. One such area is environmental permitting under the Environmental Activity and Sector Registry (EASR).

The EASR was introduced to provide smaller ground mounted solar projects (along with other types of projects) a more simplified mechanism to secure environmental approvals so they could avoid the costly and time consuming Renewable Energy Approval (REA) process. This took account of the much lower potential for environmental impacts of smaller projects (less than 500 kW).

The Ministry of Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) has confirmed for CanSIA that a project's status as "net metering" rather than "grid tied" will not affect its treatment under the EASR. This approach recognizes that the environmental impacts of a project less than 500 kW is not impacted by whether electricity is partially self-consumed vs entirely grid injected.

IREC Releases Energy Storage Guide for PolicymakersIREC
A new tool published by IREC, Charging Ahead: An Energy Storage Guide for State Policymakers provides regulators and other decision makers with specific guidance on key issues for policy consideration, including foundational policies for advanced energy storage-a new generation of technologies characterized by flexible operating capabilities and diverse applications.

Charging Ahead aims to address that gap by providing an in-depth discussion of the most urgent actions to take in order to enable viable energy storage markets that effectively empower states to take advantage of the full suite of advanced energy storage capabilities. The guide identifies four foundational policy actions states should consider taking:
  1. Clarify How Energy Storage Systems are Classified to Enable Shared Ownership and Operation Functions in Restructured Markets
  2. Require Proactive Consideration of Energy Storage in Utility Planning Effort
  3. Create Mechanisms to Capture the Full Value Stream of Storage Services
  4. Ensure Fair, Streamlined, and Cost Effective Grid Access for Energy Storage System
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