Council approves new fees for FIT projects
HUNTSVILLE – Green energy projects have a new price tag attached to them in Huntsville.
Chris Brown, senior planner for the Town of Huntsville, presented a report at a February planning committee meeting recommending tweaked fees for applications looking for municipal support for feed-in-tariff energy generation projects.
“Over the past year, the planning advisory committee has considered a number of requests for council to endorse these (projects) and staff have also filled requests for opinions of a land-use planner pursuant to the FIT rules,” said Brown. “To date, no fees have been charged for these services in support of FIT and microFIT applications.”
Brown said staff had contacted several other municipalities that charge fees for providing services in support of feed-in tariff projects. He said Bradford West Gwillimbury, Ont., for example, charges $5,000 for all non-rooftop solar applications, regardless of size. And Clarington, Ont., charges more, he said.
“We felt our fees should be more in-line with the actual cost to provide these services,” said Brown.
MicroFit projects generate less than 10 kilowatts of electricity, while the larger FIT projects create between 10 kilowatts and 50 megawatts of energy, depending on their size.
But there is a limited amount of space on the provincial energy grid for renewable energy projects, so not all projects are approved to connect to the grid.
FIT projects earn priority points under the feed-in-tariff program if they have the support of the municipality in which the project is located.
And, while microFIT projects do not need priority points as they are approved on a first come-first served basis, they do require a written opinion by a land-use planner indicating whether the proposal complies with microFIT program rules.
Brown has previously said that providing a resolution of support from council requires staff to review the application, conduct a site visit, consult municipal departments and outside organizations such as lake associations, and prepare a report for council.
Depending on the project, a minor variance application may be required as well.
Previously, staff had recommended a combination of flat rates and climbing rates to recover the costs associated with providing those services.
But committee members had wanted the fees to reflect hourly rates for the larger projects.
Staff then recommended charging $500 based on service cost estimates for a municipal support resolution for projects generating 15 kilowatts or less, while charging hourly rates and expenses plus a $500 deposit for projects generating more than 15 kilowatts. Hourly rate details will be incorporated into the town’s user fee bylaw in future.
A written opinion from a land-use planner will cost $125.
Committee approved the amended fees and forwarded its decision to council for consideration. Council approved the fees at its Feb. 25 meeting.
Council has a history of supporting green energy projects in the municipalities, particularly since the introduction of the Unity Plan, the town’s economic, cultural and environmental sustainability guiding document, in 2010.