Canada, North America

Ontario expands Standard Offer to hydro in northern region

The government of Ontario announced June 14 it is expanding its Renewable Energy Standard Offer Program to include northern Ontario hydroelectric projects connecting to the transmission system.

The government introduced the Standard Offer Program in November 2006, providing standard terms and conditions intended to make it simpler and less costly for operators of small renewable energy facilities to supply Ontario’s electricity system. Initially it restricted the program to renewable energy projects connecting to distribution systems. (HNN 5/11/07)

However, most new hydro projects in northern Ontario are expected to require connection to the transmission system. For the program, northern Ontario generally is considered to be that part of the province north of the French River.

The Ontario Waterpower Association said the government is recognizing challenges faced by northern hydropower projects by expanding the program to include that sparsely populated region.

Ontario’s waterpower initiative reduces barriers to small-scale hydro projects �- 10 MW or less -� by offering projects the opportunity to connect to the grid. Small projects meeting program criteria will be offered 20-year contracts for the power they generate through Ontario Power Authority’s Renewable Energy Standard Offer Program.

�The Standard Offer Program has already created renewed interest in waterpower projects in southern Ontario,� OWA President Paul Norris said. �This initiative will undoubtedly result in new investment in the significant opportunities in the north.�

Expansion of the Standard Offer Program also aligns the program with the government’s Waterpower Site Release policy for new projects on crown land, the association said.

Developer named for 3.2-MW project on Troutlake River

Ontario’s Ministry of Natural Resources announced June 13 it approved Horizon Hydro Inc.’s proposal to develop a 3.2-MW hydropower project on Troutlake River in western Ontario. (HNN 8/28/06) Horizon Hydro now can seek approvals to build the project, along with the opportunity to apply for the government’s Standard Offer Program.

The project — Big Falls on Troutlake River — also must undergo environmental assessments and public review before construction.

The government’s original solicitation called for proposals to develop three sites on Troutlake River -� identified as 5QC15, 5QC16, and 5QC17. Horizon Hydro said it plans to use all three sites in the project, but will build a powerhouse at only one site. The company said the powerhouse would feature one turbine-generator operating under a head of 16 meters.

Horizon Hydro is part of the Horizon Legacy Energy Group and provides financing for hydro projects as owners and operators.

The ministry said about 35 hydropower site release applications are in various stages of review and approval. Successful developers lease the land for the projects from the ministry.