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Consider the benefits of generating your own energy with solar panels

If you’ve ever considered generating your own clean, green, reusable energy with solar panels it’s never been easier or more beneficial to our environment and your budget than now.

Thanks to the Ontario Power Authority, you can join many of your neighbours who are already producing their own energy and selling it back to the grid at a fair price through the microFIT program.

The program, launched in 2009, gives homeowners the chance to basically create their own small power generator (10 kW or less) on their owned land. The homeowner pays for the equipment and technology to be put in place and through the microFIT program are paid a guaranteed price for 20 years for all the power they generate and flow back into Ontario’s grid. Of course, the energy they put back into the grid is what’s leftover after they use what they need to operate their own home – making their electricity usage totally free and still providing the opportunity to make money.

It’s an incredible concept that I encourage my clients to consider. Imagine the benefits of not having to rely solely upon Ontario’s grid for your power. You could be self-sufficient in a way many of us have likely never considered. It’s fascinating to me, but of course comes with some added responsibilities that you’ll want to consider.

The use of solar photovoltaic (PV) panels is the option my clients most often ask me about. Their large country and estate homes provide plenty of roof space for installation of the panels and thus providing a great opportunity to generate a fair bit of power. But I have to warn them to be mindful of some of the rules associated with being part of the microFIT program.

You’ll need to consider that the energy systems will need to meet a number of safety and regulatory requirements – the installation and maintenance of which is your responsibility. Furthermore, you will be required to have your project inspected by the Electrical Safety Authority, responsible for any permits and paying additional insurance costs and professional fees, so there really is a lot to consider.

And if solar PV panels are what you’re after, please note that they must achieve a minimum required domestic content level of 22 per cent for crystalline silicon PV technology, 28 percent for thin‐film PV technology, and 19 percent for concentrated PV technology.
You’ll also have to consider the cost of installing solar PV panels as well. The estimated cost for such an installation, according to Guelph-basedpaid4power.ca is roughly $30,000 for a 10 kWh solar PV panel system. The most recent microFIT price schedule, released on September 30, is $0.38 per kWh for rooftop solar PV panels. That’s a three per cent decrease in the price paid out over the last price schedule, but will still garner a payout of $70,000 to $90,000 over the course of the 20 year contract, providing a potential 11 to 15 per cent profit on that initial investment.
For more information about the microFIT program, to review the rules and regulations, as well as a sample contract complete with rate guides, visit http://microfit.powerauthority.on.ca.


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