Last week at MaRS, John Podesta, head of the Center for American Progress, and former Chief of Staff for Bill Clinton, spoke about the need for policy, innovative financing methods, and local technology development to ensure that North America does not become an importer of cleantech from China and Europe who are racing to lead the industry. Much of his speech focused on the need for Ontario to maintain its Feed-in-Tariff (FIT) program.

FIT is one of the most popular renewable energy promotion policies. In the program, renewable energy sources (solar, wind etc.), are paid a particular rate for power production based on location and other installation factors (size of the system, rooftop vs. ground mount etc.).

Ontario is in the company of over 30 countries that have implemented a FIT program as a means of driving investment, manufacturing, innovation, and jobs in renewable energy. FIT programs help to unleash private funds for energy infrastructure and are leading to innovative financing models and creative strategies that are resulting in unexpected benefits.

Historic solar deal shouts from rooftops

One of the best examples of the ability of FIT to drive innovation and benefit is the agreement signed in May of this year between the Toronto District School Board and Amp Solar Ltd. where up to 450 school roofs will be outfitted with solar panels. AMP will pay for the project costs and provide the school board with a portion of the revenue from the sale of power to the Ontario grid, and will also repair some of the school roofs – a deal estimated to be worth about $120 million for the school board.

This agreement exemplifies the capability of well-structured policy and surpasses the clean energy supply objectives of the FIT program with the following benefits:

  • With a possible 450 roofs and 50 MW it brings solar to a new level in energy investment in Ontario and establishes large solar savvy financiers in the Ontario market.
  • It places money associated with the premium paid out under the Feed-in-Tariff program into our school system.
  • Provides education – a critical factor in building a long-term clean energy industry.
Click image for more information on FiT

In order to provide an environment that fuels innovation and develops a robust and sustainable industry, we need to focus not only on the immediate benefits of manufacturing, construction and development – but also on the long-term value of education – and what better way than having it integrated (literally) into our children’s daily routine.


The FIT program has established the value on rooftops in Ontario, and has brought in solar developers, manufacturers, and financiers who are coming up with strategies that do more than create jobs and renewable energy – they help put Ontario in the lead of a global race for clean energy jobs.

More information on the Feed-in-Tariff programcan be found here.

Jon Dogterom

Jon Dogterom leads Cleantech Venture Services at MaRS, assisting innovative Ontario-based companies in growing their businesses. See more…