The other day, I paid a visit to Eco Alternative Energy, a solar energy store that I’ve passed on numerous occasions, usually while making a pit-stop to St. John’s Music for my guitar-obsessed son. I’d gone in to see what they had to offer – expecting that most of their customers were cottagers and urban treehuggers. The last time I spoke with some renewable energy vendors (about four years ago) they told me that the majority of their customers were golf courses and farmers because they could write off the equipment as a capital expenditure. For the homeowner the usual $40,000 investment didn’t justify the monthly electricity savings. My, how times have changed.
Premier McGuinty introduced the Green Energy Act last year. I had assumed that the act applied exclusively to businesses or people with a large amount of property. But it applies to business owner or homeowner or anyone with some property and southern exposure, no trees or high rises in the way.
The Green Energy Act: The province of Ontario implemented what is considered to be one of the most progressive energy policies in North America. Under the micro FIT program, anyone can apply to sell electricity back to the grid by producing renewable electricity for a pre-determined price. Depending on which method of renewable energy you choose will determine the return rate. Currently, most of us buy electricity for less than 10 cents per kilowatt hour.
The idea behind the act is to promote people and businesses living and working in Ontario to help develop clean power generation. By promoting renewable, non-polluting energy production, the province accomplishes a few different goals:
- Less dependence on coal or nuclear power for energy
- The ability to shut down one of the largest polluting power plants in North America (Nanticoke)
- Clean energy production
- No cost overruns to be supported by the tax payer because the producer is responsible for construction and operation of the renewable energy method they choose to provide.
Clearly the government is keen on solar because by far it’s the most generous payback at 80.2 cents per kilowatt hour. The Green Energy Act has different pay scales for different sized systems using different energy sources. For instance, small scale wind only pays about 13.5 cents per kilowatt hour, and micro hydro is 13.1 cents per kilowatt hour. For complete details on how the micro FIT program will work, you can read all about the program here.
Cost of solar panels: Derek at Eco Alternative Energy gave me a table on the estimated rate of return on solar panels. Note that purchase prices are subject to change and do vary, so check directly with Eco Alternative Energy when considering purchasing. Also, the Micro FIT program is only available to Ontario residents and must be approved by your local utility before proceeding if you’re intending to sell the electrcity back to the grid.
Eco Alternative Energy sells a system in which each panel is individually hooked up to an Enphase Micro Inverter which means the panels work independently of each other as opposed to working in series (like Christmas tree lights of old, where the whole strand went out if one light was burnt out). This means you’re maximizing your electricity production. You also have access to your solar panel production online so you can monitor your panels to see if every thing is working properly. See table below for pricing and ROI (note: Rate of Return on Investment is calculated by dividing the annual income by the investment cost including a degradation rate of 0.5% each year. Additional hydro set up charges may apply. Roof mounted systems include Enphase micro inverters. Prices do not include taxes and are subject to change without notice. A separate quote is available for a flat roof. This table was provided by Eco Alternative Energy.
|System Type||Annual Production||Average Daily Production||Feed-in Tariff Annual Income (ROI)||Installed Price|
|2.2 kW’s = 10x220w panels||2,726 kwh||7.4 kwh||$2,085.46 (10.8%)||$19.336.16|
|3.3 kW’S = 15x220w panels||4,089 kWh||11.2 kWh||$3,128.18 (11.6%)||$26,931.28|
|4.4 kW’s = 20 x 220w panels||5,452 kWh||14.9kWh||$4,170.91 (12.5%)||$33,447.17|
|5.5 kW’s = 25 x 220w panels||6,815 kWh||18.6 kWh||$5,213.64 (12.7%)||$41,131.55|
|7.7 kW’s = 35 x 220w panels||9,540 kWh||26.1kWh||$7, 298.33 (13.2%)||$55,135.05|
105 Vanderhoof Ave., Unit 7
Toronto, Ont., M4G 2H7