Grid capacity places delay on projects

WARKWORTH, ONTARIO - A group of Warkworth-area residents are among the 5 of MicroFIT program solar project owners in Ontario whose investments have been on hold because they couldn't get a connection to the electrical grid.

Brian Wilson's life partner, Sue Knox, is among those who have paid thousands of dollars for an enormous "sun tracking" solar installation in their yard but were delayed in getting a connection due to "lack of capacity" at their local electrical distribution substation. Until they feed in power to the grid, they get no payback from the contract they have with the Ontario Power Authority and Knox has been very anxious about the delay, Wilson told Northumberland Today.

Wilson and Knox live on the Old Hastings Road in Warkworth. Wilson said he spent hours on the phone about the problem before he finally contacted Northumberland- Quinte West MPP Lou Rinaldi who talked to Ontario Energy Minister Brad Duguid. Their 10-kilowatt installation, with 72 panels and worth $70,000, has been up and waiting since December when other solar projects were going ahead in the neighbourhood, Wilson said.

"As soon as Lou got involved" however, things began to move with theirs, Wilson said.

After being told by Hydro One that there wasn't capacity for a connection with the Dartford electrical substation, Wilson received a telephone call plus an email on February 25 — following Rinaldi's involvement — with an Offer to Connect. Now all that is required is to pay the $1,356 connection fee for the Hydro One meter on his property and fill out the connection contract, Wilson said. Then his electrician can do the final work.

There is a challenge for Hydro One concerning electrical loads throughout the province, Rinaldi said, but having worked with Duguid's office in the past, and knowing there were quite a few installations in this riding, capacity was determined to be available for most of the pending connection requests, he said. One or two people are still waiting, however.

One of these is located just five properties east of the Knox solar project, Wilson said. In fact, there are two solar installations sitting side by side and only one has the connection okay, he said.

Rinaldi said he understands his constituents' concerns when it comes to the delay in connecting to the grid.

"Obviously they had an investment. They didn't like to see it go stagnant," he said.

Wilson says he and Knox estimate payback after seven years of selling electricity from their system to the Ontario Power Authority.


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