"We're going to be opening up a large FIT window in 2013," he said in a speech on the final day of the Canadian Wind Energy Association's annual conference in Toronto.
The last FIT contract awards were made in July 2011, and the question of when contracting would resume has been a source of significant uncertainty for Ontario's wind sector. The province launched a review of the FIT programme in October 2011 which culminated in August with the release of some major rule changes, but few details about future procurement plans.
Bentley acknowledged the frustration many have felt with the delay, but said the government wanted to make sure the FIT programme, which has some strong and well-organised opponents in the province including the opposition Conservative party, is on a sustainable footing. New rules that prioritise projects with local investment and support, he said, are designed help build community acceptance.
"That takes time, far more time than you think it is going to, far more time than anyone might like," said Bentley. "But it's important to get it right because we are in it for the long term."
The province has also decided to put off contracting with large-scale projects until it has cleared the queue of applications for installations below 500kW. "It will take out many, many applications that didn't need to be sitting alongside yours," he told the audience. "That will free up resources to deal with issues on a much more expedited basis."