A press release from the Ontario Waterpower Association indicates the Ministry of Energy for Ontario, Canada, announced today the suspension of the second round of the Large Renewables Procurement (LRP II) program while the province develops the next Long-Term Energy Plan (LTEP), expected to be completed in 2017.
Under LRP II, a target of 50-MW had been established for waterpower, with an additional 50-MW of potential available for technological improvements and expansions. Today’s announcement does not affect any projects already contracted and under development, nor does it impact the next Feed in Tariff procurement for small projects, scheduled to commence on Oct. 31, 2016.
“While this is certainly disappointing news in the short term, our industry continues to make significant investments in active projects and existing assets,” said Paul Norris, president of the Ontario Waterpower Association. “Looking further ahead, and particularly in the context of the province’s Climate Change Action Plan, the reliability and flexibility of waterpower will only increase in importance.”
In his remarks Minister Glenn Thibeault noted that the Ontario Planning Outlook (OPO), recently submitted to the Ministry by the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO), predicted that the province will have a strong and steady supply of power for the next decade. Instead of proceeding with LRP II at this time, the Ministry has decided to review the role of continued procurements as part of the next LTEP consultations scheduled to begin this fall.
“Waterpower virtually lasts forever and provides for increased electricity price certainty for generations,” added Norris. “Given the long lead times for development of these facilities, it will be imperative that the projected electricity needs of the province beyond the next decade be front and center in the next LTEP.”
LRP II and LRP I, according to the government of Ontario:
- For LRP Phase II, Ontario set targets of up to 930 MW, of which 50 MW includes hydroelectricity;
- The IESO — responsible for the day-to-day operation of Ontario’s electrical system as well as the safe and reliable operation of that system — engagement process would have included surveys, webinars and meetings with industry associations, municipal associations and First Nation Peoples;
- Further engagement opportunities were scheduled to take place during the LRP II Request for Qualifications and Request for Proposals phases;
- LRP I replaced the large Feed-In Tariff program, and it covers renewable energy projects generally larger than 500 kW, designed to strike a balance between community engagement and achieving value for ratepayers;
- In March 2016, the IESO offered contracts to 16 successful LRP proponents, for about 455 MW of renewable energy capacity; and
- Of the 16 projects that received contracts, 75% received support from local municipalities.
The OPO identifies four demand/supply outlooks to the year 2035. In each of the outlooks there are considerations of direct relevance to waterpower. In alternatives which incorporate the implementation of climate change initiatives (e.g., electric vehicles), significant new capacity and energy requirements are projected and the considerable potential of northern Ontario’s waterpower is specifically recognized.