The province’s Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) has approved a number of feed-in tariff (FIT) projects for Minden Hills and Algonquin Highlands.
The IESO recently released a list of 936 renewable energy projects that were approved in the latest round of applications, more than 20 of them in Haliburton County.
In Algonquin Highlands, five ground-mounted, solar projects were approved, all of them receiving support resolutions from Algonquin Highlands council last year.
As part of the program’s application process, applicants earn “priority points” by receiving support resolutions from municipal councils in townships where proposed projects are located. While approval or denial from the IESO does not hinge on municipal support, priority points help applicants gain approval.
In Minden Hills, four small-scale, ground-mounted solar projects were approved. However, those projects did not receive support from council.
Reeve Brent Devolin noted that criteria for FIT applications have changed in successive versions of the program.
“When it started out, they didn’t need any municipal approval,” Devolin said.
Minden Hills council received numerous requests for support resolutions last year. Council, noting there was no standardized framework for assessing projects, denied support for the majority of those and struck a renewable energy task force, which tabled a renewable energy policy this spring.
Applications for the four projects that have been approved by the IESO were initially granted support resolutions by the previous Minden Hills council in 2014.
In October of 2015, the current Minden Hills council rescinded support resolutions for those projects and seven other FIT applications that had been granted by the previous council.
Despite lack of support from Minden Hills council, four of those 11 projects – three located along Blairhampton Road and one along Highway 35 – have been approved by the IESO.
Devolin has said numerous times he believes that municipalities should see some sort of financial gain from FIT projects, just as the involved landowners and companies do, a sentiment he repeated earlier this week.
“In my opinion, they’re robbing us on this,” the reeve said. Devolin said he plans to look further into the approval of the projects and that it might be a topic of conversation with provincial ministers at the upcoming Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) conference.
The projects are not to be visible from roadways or neighbouring properties, with minimum 20-metre setbacks from property lines and visual screening.
Projects were also approved in both Dysart et al and Highlands East townships.
According to the IESO, of the 936 projects approved in the latest round of applications, 906 are solar projects, seven water, six on-shore wind projects and 14 bio-energy projects.
A release from the IESO says that 92 per cent of successful applications received municipal support resolutions.