Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Killing Time: Ontario's Feed In Tariff

An industry, of sorts, is gathering in Toronto today and tomorrow for a "feed-in tariff forum".  It's a good time to reflect on the procurement mechanism's history in Ontario; doing so will shed some light on what type of industry holds a forum around a power purchase agreement (PPA) tool.

The feed-in tariff mechanism was imported from Germany during George Smitherman's passage through the Minister of Energy's office in 2009.  Early in 2010 there was an attempt to kick-start the industry with a massive 2500MW contract awarded to a Korean Syndicate.  The earliest FIT contracts we had details on came on April 8th, 2010, when Ontario awarded it's first large batch of feed-in tariff (FIT) contracts (also ~2500MW).

The subsequent passage of three years is relevant according to the template FIT contract the Ontario Power Authority (OPA) shows as being in effect during April 2010 (version 1.3)
2.5 Milestone Date for Commercial Operation
The Supplier acknowledges that time is of the essence to the OPA with respect to attaining Commercial Operation of the Contract Facility by the Milestone Date for Commercial Operation set out in Exhibit A 
Exhibit A ...1.2 Technology-Specific Values(a) The Milestone Date for Commercial Operation is the date that is three years following the Contract Date
So how has the industry done 3 years later, realizing the "time is of the essence"?


The Korean Syndicate seems to have abandoned any attempts at being an active participant, or an active investor in Ontario.  The first industrial wind project under the deal is reportedly now under construction - by a sub-contractor financed through an outsource partner (Pattern); Samsung's $7 billion promise to kickstart an industry became a $300 million iinvestment with the remainder to come slowly, and only out of payments made on the initial investment.

The other ~2500MW of capacity promised 3 years ago has faired slightly better.  It's difficult to ascertain how much better as the OPA last produced a quarterly report for 2012's First Quarter.  That showed only ~260MW of FIT capacity in-service.  While the OPA is the only source of information for projects under 10MW of capacity, the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) should show numbers for the larger FIT projects.

They show production from 2 of the larger 28 (214MW of 1350MW of capacity) projects:
  • The Point Aux Roches Wind project (48.6MW capacity) appears to have finally entered commercial operation on April 1st, although it was generating, at times, near full capacity, for a year prior to that.
  • The Comber Wind project (~165.6MW capacity) has been reporting, at times, output near full capacity, and yet the IESO's report still indicates it has not achieved commercial operations status.[1]
Brookfield's Comber project is particularly interesting as Brookfield represented the project as entering commercial operation in "the fall of 2011" when successfully attempting to issue bonds for the project.  I suspect the legalities of differentiating "commercial operation" to satisfy securities' regulators, and "commercial operation" to start the contract window under the FIT contract, are the types of things 600 people at a conference on a procurement tool do discuss.

There's probably a lot of asking "who actually builds this stuff?" going on too.

Regardless of what the crowd inside the conference is talking about, the directive from the outside crowd should be clear: the feed-in tariff program, designed to rapidly build out product at a guaranteed cost, has not rapidly built out the product.

[1]  Once the project achieves commercial operation the "Capability" should remain constant, as the actual capacity; prior to that the capability shows whatever the output for the hour is.

1 comment:

  1. Gingko biloba has been dated back over two hundred million years and it's use as medicine goes back at least five thousand years. Reducing your salt intake has been found to be helpful in stopping vertigo, Meniere's
    disease, and migraines, along with a regimen of vitamins, minerals,
    and fish oils. A regimen of vitamin therapy has been
    found to give some who suffer from ringing of the ears relief.

    my web-site; cure for tinnitus