Not all projects 'FIT' for Ontario green program

WESTBORO, ONTARIO - An Ottawa man who bought solar panels, hoping to sell electricity to the Ontario power grid, says a new provincial green energy program has left him out in the cold.

Graham Findlay installed a $10,000 solar panel at the back of his house in Westboro this spring. He also bought an inverter to allow him to send electricity to the Ontario power grid.

But Findlay recently learned that his solar panels might not meet the province's funding requirements.

"Which was a bit of a surprise," Findlay said. "It appeared that my particular facility doesn't qualify because it doesn't meet domestic content requirements."

The province announced the details of its renewable energy plan this September, including a "feed-in tariff," or FIT, program. The program allows individuals and businesses to invest in solar, wind or other forms of renewable energy and to make back their investment over time.

Under the program, the Ontario Power Authority will pay small solar producers 80.2 cents per kilowatt hour of energy they send to the grid.

But to qualify, the authority requires that at least 40 per cent of the products and labour used to get the project up and running come from Ontario. The requirement is meant to encourage growth in green energy manufacturing in the province.

Ben Chin, a spokesperson for the Ontario Power Authority, said the 40 per cent requirement can easily be met in the case of solar panels.

"There are definitely people that make Ontario-assembled mounting for solar units," Chin said. "So between the mounting of the unit, and the Ontario labour and the wiring, you can get to above 40 per cent."

The power authority said 200 homeowners applied to be part of the feed-in tariff program in its first week. The authority recommends checking the program requirements before investing in hardware for renewable energy projects.


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