Solar energy brightens Scarborough’s future

Scarborough’s solar energy industry is anticipating the results of a review which could impact its growth and popularity.

The Ontario government is undertaking a scheduled review of its Feed-in-Tariff (FIT) program as part of the Green Energy Act put in place by the Liberals in 2009.

The FIT program allows homeowners, businesses and private developers to generate set amounts of energy through wind and solar, and sell it back to the province at a fixed rate over a 20-year contract.

The program is subject to review every two years to assess price adjustments and regulations.

Robert Clack, a sales manager for Eco Alternative Energy, expects the government to pay a lower rate for renewable energy after the review to reflect the decreasing cost of manufacturing the technology. The company installs solar panels on residential homes in the GTA.

“Regardless of what they come out with, we expect someone’s return on investment to be about 10 per cent,” he said. “It’s still going to be a good program and a financially beneficial program for homeowners.”

The results of the review are expected to be released sometime this quarter.

“The idea of this program isn’t to make people rich. The idea of this program is to provide a reasonable and fair return and to build renewable energy.”

– Brad Duguid

Liberal MPP for Scarborough Centre, Brad Duguid, was instrumental in implementing the Green Energy Act as Ontario’s former energy minister. Duguid said that any pioneering initiative will naturally have shortcomings and improvements to the program have happened along the way.

“The idea of this program isn’t to make people rich. The idea of this program is to provide a reasonable and fair return and to build renewable energy,” Duguid said.

Clack has a seven kilowatt solar panel system installed on his home’s roof in Scarborough since 2010 and has a 20-year contract with the government.

Green Energy Act and Feed-in-Tariff program facts:

  • FIT program is administered by the Ontario Power Authority and is North America’s first guaranteed pricing system for renewable energy projects
  • FIT program is for projects that produce more than 10 kilowatts of renewable energy, primarily for businesses, developers and larger operations
  • MicroFIT program is for smaller projects that produce less than 10 kilowatts of renewable energy, primarily for homeowners, small businesses and farmers
  • Since the Green Energy Act and FIT were launched, Ontario has created more than 20,000 jobs
  • Compared to 2003, Ontario has reduced its coal-fired power by 90%
  • Approximately $2 billion in private money has been invested in Ontario’s solar projects so far
  • In 2010, Ontario ranked second in solar installations in North America. Second only to California.

Source: energy.gov.on.ca

“I’m earning about $500 every month selling my electricity back to the grid…So my system will be paid off in less than 10 years,” Clack said.

Despite criticism, the FIT program is bogged down with bureaucracy from people like George Smitherman, who helped introduce the Green Energy Act, Clack says the act has been important for Scarborough’s future in the green energy sector.

“Trust me when I say this, you are going to see quite a transformation of solar. Like every now and then you go down a street and see solar on a house here and there, that’s just going to continue to grow. It’s a really good thing,” Clack said.

Duguid said the switch to renewable energy is already visible just by taking a drive around Scarborough where an increasing number of homes and businesses are adopting solar technology.

“We need to be moving in this direction if we want to build a healthy and environmentally sound future for not only Ontario, but the world,” Duguid said.

2 comments:

  1. The big problem is that only the rich can afford to get into putting solar panels up and this is what Duguid and his predecessor Smitherman created. The poor are supporting the people that can afford the investment because they are paying higher rates for their electricity. Those people that invest in solar panels are guaranteed rates that are 10/20 times higher then they pay for their power. That is great for them but bad news for the rest of us. This is nothing more then take from the poor to reward the rich! This is nothing more then another cash grab by the Liberals!

  2. Save Energy First!

    Energy efficiency should be the first item on Canada’s energy agenda. Canada is about to spend billions on new oil sands projects, pipelines, nuclear and fossil-fuel power stations, hydroelectric dams, solar projects, and wind farms. But as we prepare to generate more energy, it makes sense to save energy first.

    We need to get serious about energy efficiency. The global economy is struggling and governments want to create jobs. This is a huge opportunity for Canadian governments to help Canadian families save energy. Making our homes more energy-efficient creates jobs in all communities. http://www.SaveEnergyFirst.ca

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