FIT for Life

October.27.2011

Feed-in-tariff system the most successful renewable energy policy worldwide, studies show

Ontario microFIT installationDevelopment of renewable energy eases the high cost of fossil fuel and nuclear energy borne by governments worldwide. The green energy sector is one of the few actually creating new jobs in many of the world’s floundering economies. Both developed and developing economies are benefitting from renewable energy initiatives, the most smashingly successful of which is Ontario’s Feed-in-Tariff (FIT) system according to a recent REN21 study.

The rock star of the renewable energy industry, FIT programs have been so successful that over 75% of solar and 45% of wind energy is harvested through them globally. This makes them the most popular energy policy worldwide according to a recent study. Over 75 countries, states and provinces across the globe have instituted FIT programs in one form or another.

These policies vary to fit the landscape of the economies in which they are instituted, but one lesson is abundantly clear in all of them; the devil is in the detail. FIT prices need to be attractive enough to entice home and business owners to install solar panels, but this is irrelevant if access to the grid is not cheap and easy. Although most FIT programs claim to be modelled on the success of the German endeavour, none have reached quite such dizzying heights. The reason for this is that most residents do not enjoy the same easy access to their power grid as do the Germans.

installing solar panelsIf a German homeowner (let’s call him Fritz) gets approval for his FIT project, he need wait for connection to the grid only as long as it takes him to install his panels. That’s because Fritz’s microFIT system has priority over all other energy sources. Renewable sources of energy not only enjoy priority in Germany, Fritz actually has a “right to sell electricity to the grid”, according to Germany’s Renewable Energy Sources Act. This means that when Fritz gets approval for his microFIT installation (a process that runs as smoothly as a German auto) he can rest assured that his local electricity provider will be paying him an income in a couple of days. Failing to do so would be a violation of his rights.

MicroFIT tariffs are what attract investors from the outset. They range from as much as 88 cents per kWh in Switzerland to as little as 22.4 cents per kWh in Hawaii. Currently, Ontario residents enjoy a tariff of 80.2 cents per kWh, although this price is due for adjustment in the fall.

During the recent Ontario elections, rising hydro bills were blamed on the FIT and microFIT programs. This fatuous allegation failed to note that the average household pays less than 50 cents to solar initiatives. This is expected to rise to only 70 cents by 2018. This year alone, the solar industry contributed $2 billion and 8,200 jobs to the Province. The extensive refurbishments to nuclear and gas facilities currently underway in Ontario will double hydro bills in the next 10 to 15 years.

Although many Ontarians have successfully installed microFIT and FIT programs and are currently reaping the benefits of optimum FIT tariffs, others have had delays in getting their systems hooked up to the grid. In some cases, residents have invested in their microFIT systems only to be told that they could wait a year or longer before gaining access to the grid. This has occurred mostly in rural areas where archaic electrical infrastructure does not allow for the inclusion of residential solar systems. It is imperative that you get approval and check the connectivity of your local electrical provider prior to investing in a FIT system.

Too many solar installers simply install the system and leave homeowners to sort through the paperwork. The Province is making inroads into streamlining the system and catching up with the backlog of applications. In the interim, don’t let the horror stories put you off. Find a solar installer that will help you every step of the way. Solar installers need to help you to obtain building permits, authorizations and inspections. It’s best if your solar power installer has a licensed electrician who can inspect the system once complete.

Take advantage of our prime microFIT tariffs (second only to Switzerland’s) before they get revised. Owning your own microFIT system will make you money, add value to your home and contribute positively to the environment. Make your own energy. Put SUNMONEY.CA in your pocket today.

Make ‘SUN MONEY’ in 4 easy steps

January.05.2011

TBDAre you looking to make hay while the sun shines? With government rebates and microFIT incentives, solar panel systems will make Sun Money for you. If you are worried that the process of installing a solar panel system is too complex or too expensive, think again. Here’s how to install a solar panel system in 4 easy steps.

Step 1: Is your Home Suitable for a Solar Panel System?

The best way to ascertain the suitability of your home for a solar panel system is to conduct a solar audit. With a little research you can do this yourself, but most solar installers will provide the service free of charge. A solar audit will ensure that:

  • Your roof is in good condition and is not in need of re-shingling or repair.
  • That you have enough space for a solar panel system.
  • That a portion of your roof is south facing and that this portion is free from shading by trees and other buildings.

Step 2: Information is Key

make sun money in 4 easy steps

  • Research your financial options. Many financial institutes will provide financing for such an endeavour. Some neighbourhoods will collaborate with a solar panel system installer to get better prices on group deals.
  • Ask neighbours who have solar panel systems about their experiences.
  • Get quotes from local solar installers.
  • If you live in Ontario, you are eligible for the microFIT program which provides fantastic incentives for solar panel systems. To register for the microFIT program, visit the MymicroFIT web site. Make an online application and receive a conditional offer within 90 days.

Step 3: Don’t stall, install!

Obtain the necessary approvals:

  • From your local utility company;
  • A building permit from the local municipality and
  • An Electrical Safety Authority (ESA) inspection. Most installers will include this.

Your local solar panel system installer will assist you with obtaining permits. Now you are ready for your solar panel system to be installed.

Step 4: Start earning Sun Money.

make sun money in 4 easy stepsOnce your system is installed you must contact your local distribution company (LDC) and they will send someone to conduct a verification audit to ensure that you have met local system standards. Your LDC will then hook your solar panel system up to the grid and notify the Ontario Power Authority (OPA) that you have met the requirements. The OPA will send you your 20 year contract.

Now you are ready to put Sun Money into your pocket!

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