An Ottawa company that participated in a provincial program helping homeowners and farmers develop renewable energy projects is suing the Ontario Power Authority for $9 million, claiming it lost hundreds of customers and was forced to lay off all its employees after the OPA retroactively reduced fees paid out under the plan.
The claim, which the province disputes, relates to the government’s microFIT program, an ongoing initiative introduced by Ontario’s Energy Ministry in 2009.
The program was launched to encourage homeowners, farmers, small businesses and institutions to produce small renewable energy projects.
These owners are paid for the electricity they produce, and the prices are set to enable them to recover their costs and earn a “reasonable return” over a 20-year period.
According to court documents, Capital Solar Power Corp. says it expended “vast sums of money” and time recruiting participants for the program, and in September 2011 saw about 275 of them apply for microFIT.
Of the 275 customers, about 175 obtained an offer to connect from a local electricity distribution company, who in turn notified the Ontario Power Authority about the offers.
In late October 2011, the OPA announced a review of microFIT and said that applications submitted after Aug. 31, 2011, would be subject to new rules and a new pricing schedule.
The following year, then provincial energy minister Chris Bentley gave a new direction to the OPA, the documents say, so that the price for energy derived from solar rooftop projects was dropped from 80.2 cents per kilowatt hour to 54.9 cents — retroactive to Aug. 31, 2011.