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January 25, 2017
A note from Ben Weir and Patrick Bateman, CanSIA's Policy Directors

Happy new year!

We hope that you enjoyed a peaceful and joyous holiday season and that your 2017 is off to a good start.  

At CanSIA's national annual conference in December, we shared with you some reflections on the year that was coming to a close and the implications they would bring for the industry in the year ahead (view slidedeck or listen to the audio).

We noted that 2016 was a very dynamic year for solar policy development, that in retrospect it will be viewed as a pivotal year for the Canadian solar industry, one where many opportunities began to materialize, coupled with uncertainty, as markets and policies were introduced, revised and removed.  

We suggested that the defining factors of 2016 fell into three broad themes and that these themes would continue into 2017:
  • Climate Action is Driving Energy Policy
  • Utilities & Regulators Addressing Distributed Solar
  • Prairies Are Taking The Lead On Utility-Scale Solar Electricity
If the progress and success in each of these three areas in the first 18 business days of this new year are anything to go by, CanSIA will continue to be very active advancing policy and regulation and developing markets on behalf of our Members.  We're looking forward to a challenging but prosperous 2017 and to being ambassadors and advocates for our industry.

Please read on for more policy, regulatory and market updates from the CanSIA Executive Team and learn how you can get involved:
Upcoming CanSIA Network Webinars
Smart Inverters and the Potential for Solar Grid Services in Canada
Date: Thursday, February 9, 2017
Time: 2:00 PM - 3:00 PM EST (12:00 PM - 1:00 PM MT)
Register here.

This CanSIA Utilities & Regulatory Affairs Network Webinar will provide an overview of advanced inverter functionality, its benefits to electricity grids and include a case study of the PV-STATCOM technology - a Canadian first which allows solar facilities to be used to provide voltage regulation, increase system stability, and improve power factor during the day and night.

CanSIA Members can register here for the 'Smart Inverters and the Potential for Solar Grid Services in Canada' Webinar.

Solar's Role in Ontario's Long Term Energy Plan
Date: Tuesday, March 7, 2017
Time: 2:00 PM - 3:00 PM EST (12:00 PM - 1:00 PM MT)
Register here.

This Network Webinar will review CanSIA's submission to the Minister of Energy on the 2017 Ontario Long Term Energy Plan (LTEP). We will review potential supply adequacy risks to the Ontario electricity system, the associated GHG risks from supply decisions, the cost of electricity and solar's contribution to that cost, as well as CanSIA's recommendations on how to best utilize solar electricity, heating and cooling to help mitigate risk and achieve the province's climate change goals.

CanSIA Members can register here for the 'Solar's Role in Ontario's Long Term Energy Plan' Webinar.

Save the date for CanSIA's upcoming webinars taking place later this year:
  • The Market Outlook for Solar Electricity in Alberta
    Tuesday, March 28th
    2 PM ET | 12 PM MT
  • Policy & Regulatory Scan for Community Solar & Virtual Net-Metering in Canada
    Tuesday, April 11th
    2 PM ET | 12 PM MT
  • Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change: Implications for Solar Energy
    Tuesday, April 25th
    2 PM ET | 12 PM MT

Policy & Market Development
Getting It Right: Solar to Contribute to a More Energy Efficient AlbertaGetting
Following an announcement that " Alberta's green incentives program will be ready by March", the final report of the Alberta Energy Efficiency Advisory Panel has now been released.  The report provides recommendations to the Government of Alberta on the creation of Energy Efficiency Alberta (EEA), a not-for-profit Crown Agency that will support energy efficiency programs and services for homes and businesses.  

The report recommends that one of the four initial programs launched by EEA include the "Small Solar Photovoltaic (PV) Program".  The Small Solar Photovoltaic (PV) program will provide financial incentives to support the installation of solar photovoltaic systems on buildings, including homes, businesses, and community structures, under Alberta's Micro-Generation Regulation. The program will reduce greenhouse gas emissions, generate electricity at the point-of-use, and ensure reliable electricity generation for over 25 years. The financial incentive will lower the cost of installing the solar system and help ensure net financial savings on electricity. The Small Solar PV program builds on programs already available for farms, municipalities, and Indigenous communities. This new program extends the ability to participate in solar PV to the rest of the province.  The report also contains longer-term recommendations including on community-scale renewables which will be the subject of consultation during the coming year.

CanSIA will continue to engage with policy-makers and will advise Members as further details are released.  For further background, view CanSIA's submission to the Alberta Energy Efficiency Advisory Panel and a presentation delivered by Dave Kelly, Chair of the CanSIA Board of Directors, on the role of solar electricity in energy efficiency in Alberta, at the recent Energy Efficiency Alberta Alliance conference in Edmonton.

Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change ReleasedPan
In case you missed it:  throughout 2016, the Federal Government led consultations with the provinces and territories on climate change mitigation and adaptation, carbon pricing and cleantech and jobs.  CanSIA advocated for a variety of measures that would see the solar energy industry playing an important role in contributing to our national strategy to reduce GHG emissions by 30% beneath 2005 levels by 2030.  The " Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change" was released just before the holidays and the recommendations for the electricity sector and built environment are well aligned with the recommendations made by CanSIA including a national price on carbon, a 90% non-emitting electricity goal and the phase-out of coal-fired generation by 2030. With policy directions set, CanSIA is focused on the next phase of the policy development at the federal-level and implementation process and the opportunities that this will bring for the solar industry in Canada.

CanSIA Submits Recommendations on the Ontario Long Term Energy PlanLTEP
On December 16, 2016 CanSIA made our formal recommendations to the Ontario Ministry of Energy with regards to the 2017 Long Term Energy Plan (LTEP). This submission was developed in conjunction with our Ontario's Long Term Energy Plan Strategic Project Advisory Committee.

CanSIA wholly recognizes that Ontario has made great strides in greening the electricity grid, retiring coal, encouraging conservation, making investments in transmission and distribution, and piloting different types of storage and demand side management projects. The costs associated with maintaining and modernizing electricity infrastructure are not insignificant, however, the investment has resulted in a resilient, clean and versatile system which will serve Ontarians well going forward. And while electricity rates have increased, our submission on the LTEP provides a breakdown of how much of the average residential electricity bill is actually attributable to the more than 2 GW of solar installed in the province (roughly 5%).

CanSIA's recommendations for the 2017 LTEP draw attention to the risks to Ontario's electricity supply and demand situation, as well as the risks to meeting the province's aggressive GHG reduction targets without continued support from non-emitting resources like solar. To meet these risks, CanSIA has recommended that the province include clear policy direction to build a robust and open net metering framework, provide options for consumers to reduce their electricity and heating bills, maintain low emissions from the electricity sector while aggressively pursuing the electrification of other segments of the economy like transportation, and to utilize solar PV and solar heating technologies to reduce emissions from energy end uses.

Timelines for Alberta & Saskatchewan Utility-Scale ProcurementsTimelines
Alberta and Saskatchewan continue to work through the development and running of their respective utility scale renewables procurement initiatives. Significant activity is expected to take place in both provinces in 2017. See below for expected timelines.

Alberta's Renewable Electricity Program (REP):
  • RFQ Stage: Late April 2017
  • RFP Stage: Mid-September 2017
  • Successful proponent(s) selected: December 2017

Details are not yet know on Alberta Infrastructure's procurement of 135,000 MWh announced at CanSIA's Solar West 2016 but it is understood that information is forthcoming.


  • RFQ Stage: Currently running
  • RFP Stage: Q1 2017
  • Successful proponent(s) selected: Q4 2017
Ontario Continues to Drive Toward Wholesale Market Renewalwholesale
The drive towards market renewal in Ontario continues. In late 2015 the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) held a number of stakeholder consultation sessions aimed at providing information on the potential benefits that could arise from pursuing various different reforms to the wholesale electricity market.

With the cancellation of the LRP II in conjunction with recent policy insight delivered by the Minister of Energy which focused on technology neutrality, the renewables sector in Ontario needs to be prepared for a possible future wherein a capacity market is the primary (or only) mechanism utilized for contracting utility scale electricity generation. The continued use of long term contracts (competitively procured or otherwise) is certainly not a sure thing and CanSIA will need to engage strongly in the design of these market reforms to help ensure that renewables and solar can play an active role in any future market.

For Members interested in learning more about potential market reforms, the IESO is holding educational sessions throughout late January and February. Dates and registration instructions are available online (slide 7 of the deck) and you can email to request to attend any of the sessions.

NRCan Releases New Edition of Clean Energy Resources and Projects in Atlas of CanadaNRCan
In the second edition of the Clean Energy and Resources and Projects (CERP), Natural Resources Canada (NRCAN) has made some big improvements. The 7 new layers added in the latest edition explore Canada's biomass, geothermal and uranium resource potential as well as clean technology incubators and accelerators, upcoming major clean energy projects, nuclear stations and geothermal heating facilities in Canada.

The CERP map has also been updated to show clean energy test centres and energy generating stations in Canada for hydro, tidal, wind, solar and more! In addition, you can access our RETScreen software to learn how to improve energy efficiency and conduct feasibility analysis for energy projects.

Utilities & Regulatory Affairs
Nova Scotia's New Solar Community Buildings Program Edges Closer to LaunchNova
Nova Scotia has hit its 2015 target to produce 25 per cent of electricity from renewable sources and is on track to meet or exceed 40 percent in five years' time.  Now, the province is in the final stages of planning to launch a new community solar program next year.  The program will provide non-profit groups, municipalities and First Nations an opportunity to install arrays of solar panels on local buildings such as fire stations, town halls, churches, recreation centres, farmers' markets and arenas.  The program will involve a competitive bidding process and long-term power purchase agreements for successful projects.  The draft regulations were recently posted and CanSIA submitted a series of recommendations in response to ensure that the implementation of the program delivers the expected outcomes and maximizes the benefit of the program to Nova Scotia.

Second Phase of Ontario's Net Metering Regulation Consultation Beginssecond
The Ontario Ministry of Energy has posted an update to the regulatory proposal for revising the net metering regulation (O. Reg. 541/05). The Ministry has elected to include all previously posted changes (lifting the project capacity cap, incorporating energy storage, extending the credit rollover period etc.) other than single-entity virtual net metering, which has been identified as requiring further consideration before implementing. Additional changes have also been proposed including enabling multi-entity virtual net metering (previously termed community net metering) and third party ownership.

CanSIA views these additional changes as absolutely essential if Ontario is to have a robust and open net metering framework that will facilitate new and more efficient business models, reduce the cost of solar for electricity end users, and provide a stable basis for the industry to transition to after the phase out of the FIT and microFIT Programs. Consultations for these new changes will take place over the coming months, however the first round of feedback is due February 8, 2017.

CanSIA encourages all of our interested members to participate in these consultations as well as to participate in our Ontario Net Metering Member Forum. The first teleconference for the Forum will be held on Thursday January 26, 2016 from 1:30 - 3:00 PM wherein the Forum will review and discuss a draft feedback submission. Call-in details for the teleconference will be provided to those who register at the link above.

Putting the Potential Rate Impacts of Distributed Solar into ContextPotential
  A new study from the US Department of Energy National Renewable Energy Laboratory looking at the potential rate impacts of distributed solar has been released. This study examines the potential effects of distributed solar on retail electricity rates at both current and projected future penetration levels. The basic finding of this report is that the impacts to retail electricity rates from distributed solar have been and will likely continue to be small when compared against other drivers of rate increases.

The Utility of the Future? An Industry in Transitionutility
The MIT Energy Initiative (MITEI)'s "Utility of the Future" brings together a diverse consortium of leading international companies to address emerging issues in the electric power sector, and provides a neutral framework within which to evaluate the economic, regulatory, and technological impacts of the ongoing evolution of the power sector worldwide.

This comprehensive study has sought to address the technology, policy, and business models shaping the evolution of the delivery of electricity services. It examines several possible scenarios of the future of the electricity sector in order to inform utilities, regulators, policy makers, and new market actors attempting to navigate a rapidly changing industry.

The multi-year study sought to answer key questions such as:
  • What key distributed energy technologies can disrupt the power sector?
  • How might distributed energy resources - such as solar panels or plug-in vehicles in garages - impact power system operations, markets, and regulations?
  • What business models may develop, and how will they successfully serve both upstream electricity market actors and energy consumers?
  • What impact could these new business models have on incumbent utilities, and what opportunities may exist for other industry sectors to capitalize on these changes?
  • How will regulation need to evolve to create a level playing field for both distributed and traditional energy resources?
  • What are plausible visions of the future of the power sector, including changes for incumbent utilities, new electricity service providers, regulators, policy makers, and consumers?
Electricity Rates Increase in Saskatchewan, Rebate Introduced in OntarioElectricity
As of January 1, 2017 Saskpower's customers will see a rate increase of approximately 3.5% (or roughly $4/month). This rate increase was approved by cabinet in order to pay for transmission and distribution infrastructure investments that are required to maintain reliability. The 3.5% increase was a revision down from the originally forecast 5% increase.

As of January 1, 2017 the Ontario Rebate for Electricity Consumers (OREC) program officially came into force. The OREC is the rebate of the provincial portion of the Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) which was promised by the Ontario Liberal government as a method to reduce electricity bills. The OREC will amount to an 8% rebate for residential customers. CanSIA Members currently developing net metering projects for customers in Ontario must now account for this rebate in financial forecasts of electricity bill offsets from solar.  For background information, you can read the Ontario Rebate for Electricity Consumers Act, 2016 and the General OREC regulation.

AESO Proposes New and Amended ISO Rules for AGFs and DERsreform
The AESO is currently developing new and amended ISO Rules and associated definitions for Wind, Solar, Aggregated Generating Facility (AGF) and Distributed Energy Resources (DER). The proposed amendments will be primarily applicable to aggregated generating facilities, including wind and solar facilities, connected to the Alberta transmission system or the electric distribution system, including an electric system in the service area of the City of Medicine Hat.  The AESO anticipates the proposed Wind, Solar, AGF and DER Amendments will be posted for comment in Q1 2017:
  • Proposed New Section 304.9, Wind and Solar Aggregated Generating Facility Forecasting;
  • Proposed New Section 502.16, Aggregated Generating Facilities Operating Requirements;
  • Proposed Amended Section 502.1, Aggregated Generating Facilities Technical Requirements;
  • Proposed Amended Section 304.3, Wind and Solar Power Ramp Up Management;
  • Proposed Amended Section 502.8, SCADA Technical and Operating Requirements;
  • Proposed Amended Section 202.5, Supply Surplus;
  • Proposed Amended Section 202.6,  Adequacy of Supply; and
  • Proposed Amended Section 502.3, Interconnected Electric System Protection Requirements

Premier Wynne Potentially Moving Electricity Delivery Charges onto Tax-BaseWynne
In a speech delivered to the Economic Club of Canada on January 19, 2017, Premier Kathleen Wynne discussed potential future actions her government might take in order to reduce electricity costs for Ontarian's. One of those potential moves is moving delivery charges from the rate base to the tax base. This would mean that customers would no longer pay the delivery portion of their electricity bill, which would instead be paid for by the province from general revenues. What would this mean for solar PV net metering in Ontario?

Delivery charges are intended to pay for the delivery of electricity from generation facilities across the province to homes and businesses. They are generally made up of a combination of transmission charges, distribution charges, and a fixed monthly customer service charge. Currently for residential customers, the distribution portion of that charge is under the process of being fixed (i.e. it would no longer change depending on the customer's electricity usage). The fixed monthly service charge is also unaffected by usage, however, the transmission portion of the charge can still be impacted by usage. If the delivery charge was to be paid for from the tax base in its entirety it would eliminate the ability of a solar net metering system to offset any portion of delivery charges for the individual customer (as those charges would not directly appear on their electricity bill). This would reduce the potential bill savings from net metering for affected customers. No information has been released about whether this move would be for residential customers vs larger volume customers.

More clarity on this potential change in electricity billing is expected to be released in advance of the Liberal budget this spring.

On a related topic,  a new study which explores the potential of residential rooftop solar to produce savings from demand charges for both customers has been released:  "Retail electricity tariffs with demand charges, whereby electricity customers are charged based on their peak demand, are commonly used for commercial customers and are increasingly being considered for residential customers as well. In light of this increased attention, Berkeley Lab and NREL are jointly engaged in a series of studies to evaluate the potential role of demand charges in aligning customer bill savings and utility cost savings from rooftop solar. The analysis summarized here is the first in this series of studies. It focuses specifically on residential customers with solar and seeks to answer the basic question: To what extent, and under what conditions, can rooftop solar reduce residential demand charges?"

Attend Pembina Institute's Webinar: 'Capacity Markets 101: Understanding Options for Alberta'Pembina
This year, the AESO will be engaging stakeholders to determine the design of the new capacity market. This informational session will explore what capacity markets are, key design principles and lessons learned from other jurisdictions.

The Pembina Institute will be hosting a webinar entitled 'Capacity Markets 101: Understanding Options for Alberta' on Wednesday February 1, 2017 from 11:00 AM to 12:00 PM MDT with Michael Hogan, a senior advisor at The Regulatory Assistance Project. Michael is one of the leading experts in capacity market design, built on his many decades of experience in the electricity industry and work with electricity systems around the globe. He will share information about what capacity markets are, key design principles and lessons learned from other jurisdictions, followed by a Q&A. Click here to register. 

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