Construction has now started on a controversial 448 acre solar farm located northwest of the Town of Belmont in Southwestern Ontario. The farm will cover prime agricultural soils, but is not subject to the current restrictions on use of Class 1, 2 and 3 agricultural soils for large-scale solar projects. The proponent, First Solar, obtained a contract from the Ontario Power Authority (OPA) under the former Renewable Energy Standard Offer Program (RESOP). The new prohibition on use of prime agricultural land came into effect only with the new Feed-in Tariff (FIT) Program.
While the project benefitted from the lack of protection for agricultural land under the old RESOP program, it also took advantage of the new changes to municipal authority brought in under the Green Energy Act. Under the Green Energy Act legislation, municipalities have little or no ability to challenge the approval of renewable energy projects within their jurisdictions.