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Old 2010-06-26, 12:33 PM   #16
fairiequeenArch
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Default great project blog

Thanks for this information, I have a friend considering a small generation project, and although a different configuration it is always good to see what someone else experiences going through the process(es). I use the retscreen software regularly now, and in my experience it is a good tool even if MS dependant. I will be watching for updates on this project and wish you well.
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Old 2010-06-27, 07:07 PM   #17
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Great info SlimDiesel! It sounds like quite a process to get going (put me off ~5 years ago when the return was so much smaller), but now that I'm not doing anything worthwhile LOL, I have the time to tackle it. Time to seriously consider putting that aerial waste of space to some use, the south side at least... Edit: too bad I didn't see this thread before today, would have saved me some time last week...

Will do some preliminary "official" stuff tomorrow, made some contacts in local gov last week. Locally they are typically IMO "fake green": they talk it up and do a lot of stuff that looks good superficially, but when you actually want to do something that's de facto useful they put as many (legal/financial) roadblocks as possible in your way. Unless it's their own plan. Plus an awful NIMBY area, easily competes with TO for that; luckily "flat on the roof" is pretty non-intrusive. There was an article in the local rag a couple weeks ago about a nearby guy who did just this, so it certainly is doable, opened his house to those interested, but by the time I read the rag it was too late...

Do the panels affect your house insurance much? Does the matter that the panels are generating income, and thus I guess effectively a "business", affect anything in that regard?

I have always wondered this minor thing: do the panels have any cooling or heating effect on the roof & upper storey of a house? I wouldn't think much, but it could get warmer under the panels with the reduced air circulation. Or maybe it gets cooler with the panels "absorbing" a lot of the sun's heat? Thanks.
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Old 2010-07-03, 07:21 PM   #18
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Default 10K PV ground mount system.

I'm committed to the above system, and have already paid $33,000 of the $67,500 it will cost.
Last evening (Friday, on a long weekend), I got this notice from microFIT....

Dear microFIT Applicant,



New Price Category Proposed for microFIT Ground-Mounted Solar PV Projects



Last October the Ontario Power Authority launched the successful microFIT Program. Participation in the program is very popular and it has vastly surpassed expectations. In fact, more than 16,000 applications have been submitted, with a large majority being for ground-mounted solar projects.

To help ensure the program remains sustainable the OPA has proposed a new price category for microFIT ground-mounted solar PV projects. Ground-mounted solar PV projects of 10 kilowatts or less will be eligible to receive a proposed price of 58.8 cents per kilowatt-hour (¢/kWh). Rooftop solar PV projects, as defined in the microFIT Rules, version 1.4, will continue to be eligible for 80.2 ¢/kWh.

The proposed new price category will better reflect the lower costs to install a ground-mounted solar PV project versus a rooftop project. It will provide a price that enables future project owners to recover costs of the projects as well as earn a reasonable return on their investment over the long term.

There will be a 30-day comment period on the proposed new price. microFIT application intake will continue during that time.

You are being advised of this change because you have applied for a microFIT solar PV contract but have not yet received a conditional offer. Consistent with the microFIT Rules version 1.4, if your solar PV project is a rooftop project, your contract offer will be at the original price of 80.2 ¢/kWh. A rooftop project is one that is being installed on the roof of an existing permanent building, such as a home, small business or other institution. Please review the definition of “Rooftop Facility” in the microFIT Rules, version 1.4. If your solar PV project does not comply with the definition of a rooftop facility, it is considered a ground-mounted project, and you will be offered a contract under the proposed new price category.

The microFIT program was designed on the principle of a reasonable rate of return. Program uptake to date has surpassed what the OPA had anticipated when it launched the program. More than 16,000 applications have been submitted. Virtually all of the projects are for solar PV, and the size of the projects indicates that the majority of applications are for ground-mounted, rather than rooftop, projects.

The cost to install a ground-mounted solar PV project is lower than the cost to install a rooftop project. This proposed new price for ground-mounted solar PV projects will provide ground-mounted solar generators with the same reasonable rate of return that other generators will receive over the 20-year term of their contracts. The OPA believes the proposed new price category is fair, reasonable, more accurately reflects the costs associated with these types of projects and maintains the long-term stability of the program.

The Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure supports this decision because it ensures that the microFIT Program is meeting its program goals and is providing proper value to generators and ratepayers. The OPA believes it is in the best long-term, sustainable interests of the program, generators and ratepayers that a proposed new price category be created now so the program can realize the value it was intended to deliver.

A separate communication will provide instructions on how you are to indicate on your microFIT application whether your project is a rooftop or a ground-mounted project. You will then need to resubmit your application. Ground-mounted applications will be processed following the 30-day comment period.

More information is also available on the microFIT website.

The OPA will be holding webinars on July 6 and July 8, 2010 to discuss the introduction of this proposed new price category and answer questions. The OPA will also accept comments by e-mail and regular mail. Details on how to participate in the webinars or submit comments can be found on the microFIT website.

Regards,
FIT Team


So far, this 26.7% reduction in revenue is only 'proposed', but we need to fight this.
They can't just unilaterally, and arbitrarily, change the rules in the middle of the game!
But that's what they are attempting to do
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Old 2010-07-04, 11:02 AM   #19
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Sorry this has taken a few days... vacation, you know...

cfraser: I don't yet know how the system might affect household insurance. There is a reference to the topic at the SWITCH Kingston website (http://switchkingston.ca/wiki/doku.p...ofit:insurance) but I haven't yet contacted my agent. It certainly won't invalidate my insurance... that's what the engineering analysis, permit process and ESA (Electrical Safety Authority) inspections are about. My insurance didn't care when I installed an automatic standby generator as long as it had the right approvals and was ESA-inspected. Probably the worst that can happen is that the system itself will be uninsured.

As far as the heating/cooling the roof goes, I expect my garage to get a LOT cooler in the summer because the panels will be 'shading' about 75% of my charcoal-black roof. Sure, the panels will get quite warm because they're jet black and only turn about 15% of the energy that falls on them into electricity, but the heat they themselves reradiate will be in free-air above the roof.

milt: This is not changing the rules after the fact. The rules state very clearly that your contract price will be the price in effect on the date of the issuance of your conditional contract. If you signed the system purchase contract before your conditional contract issued then you took a gamble and lost. I took the same risk but had a different outcome - the 80.2 cents is locked in for a year. Welcome to the world of business.
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Old 2010-07-04, 01:45 PM   #20
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SlimDiesel: If you check your contract with OPA I think you'll find that you are locked in at 80.2 cents for 20 years, not just one.

What the microFIT program is attempting to do is called "bait and switch" in business, and I believe it's against the law.
The 'bait' was the promise of 80.2 cents per kilowatt.
According to the notice from microFIT that I posted above, a large majority of the 16,000 applications are for ground-mounted solar projects.
"More than 16,000 applications have been submitted. Virtually all of the projects are for solar PV, and the size of the projects indicates that the majority of applications are for ground-mounted, rather than rooftop, projects."
So roughly 16,000 people took the bait, and some of them, like me, started ordering panels, inverters, etc., because they are not available 'off-the-shelf' and must be ordered well in advance. My 48 panels & 2 5000watt inverters took 7 weeks to get here from China.
At 8+ weeks, I am still waiting for my 'conditional contract'.
And now microFIT hits me, and~16,000 others, with the 'switch'
All of my calculations regarding financial feasibility, financing, bank loans etc., were done using the 80.2 # I was given.
Now everything is out the window and I'm back to square one.
I do have an 'out' clause in my system purchase contract, but I'll lose my original $3,000 deposit.
If I go ahead with the project, at 58.8 cents, I'll lose $3,000 a year, for the next 20 years.

Last edited by Milt; 2010-07-04 at 01:51 PM. Reason: Adding the last sentence
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Old 2010-07-05, 08:00 AM   #21
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By 'one year' I was referring to the fact that the conditional contract guarantees that the final contract price, which will run 20 years, will be 80.2 as long as the system is installed within one year from the date of issue. If I delay longer than that (for example, trying to ride the downward cost curve too hard) then I would get whatever the price is then.

I'm going to assume you will be expressing your displeasure to the OPA during the 30 day comment period. Perhaps suggest that an exemption be granted as long as receipts can show that the system material purchase was initiated before the change (only a small moral hazard). Its still a weak position given that the microFIT home page has always said 'Step 1: Submit an application and receive conditional offer' and step 6 of the linked page says 'Once your application has been approved, you can proceed to build and connect your project.' We both jumped the gun but you got the shorter end of the stick. Good luck.
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Old 2010-07-05, 10:10 AM   #22
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Default OPA change in tariffs

Milt, Slim:

I am a small installer. I have worked hard over the past few months to convince farmers in my area to put in solar. They are paying for the systems, I just get a margin on the sale and installation. With this change, most of my customers will be canceling. I am looking at laying off most of my crew if this goes through.

I understand that OPA is technically allowed to make these changes. However:

- They promised that the rules would be in place for two years.

- Releasing this in the middle of a holiday weekend is sleazy. I found out from one of my customers, who got the same email.

- The idea that they are going to exclude farmers who have not received offers yet is ridiculous. The reason that these people don't have offers is that the OPA has not been able to keep up with the applications.

- What is to prevent them from changing the rules again? How can anyone plan a business with rules like this?

This is frustrating, and is going to cost jobs across the province, both in installing and in manufacturing.
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Old 2010-07-05, 02:47 PM   #23
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SlimDiesel: thanks for the info. I wasn't worried about the house being "uninsurable", but my friend looking at the finances wanted some type of number. We don't really have one yet, but we don't think, being reasonable people and not an insurance company, that it should be much more (for me) since the house is "over-insured" already. The heating effect on the roof was relevant in case something extra should be done before installing anything. I have a very large roof area considering the small size of the house, so heating effects are already an issue re summer cooling costs (like today!). Also, if something was done to the roof etc. *because* of the solar stuff, to ameliorate any negative effects if there were any, then we want to see if that can somehow be accounted for in the project "business" cost (doubtful for primary residence). Also, it is very debateable my roof will be good for 20 more years, borderline (potential removal/re-installation of panels cost, in 15 years say). The cost vs return (after tax) is very marginal for me already, even paying cash, so we want to consider as much stuff as possible. More of an interest thing, but don't want it to be a costly "hobby" LOL. My best nearish contact for info does not live in the house he installed on, he rents it out, so that is a totally different financial business model.

Right now, since we have not done anything yet, the real big question is whether we could get systems online before 2011. Domestic content requirement. Considering it would take months to get a contract, then having to acquire the equipment, then that we'll be at the end of the queue for installation and getting online with everybody else wanting it before 2011... It seems sensible at this late point for us (and anybody else who doesn't already have a contract) to assume that we'll need to meet the 60% rule. That will almost certainly mean some Samsung panels at this point, and frankly that doesn't fill me with confidence. At least people who are underway had some choice there, in a kind of important expensive system acquisition. I think they should have made the domestic content bump up when there was already some Ontario PV panel manufacturing actually available, not that that would change my confidence in what we know is to be available. 20+ year reliability from Samsung *anything*?? That I gotta see... If they changed the date to 2012 say, that would be a lot better/reasonable. I'm a little concerned about getting a slap-dash installation by a harried installer (with many contracts to fulfill!) in November 2010 or something, then worried if it can be hooked up to the grid in time (completely out of my control) so I'm not SOL re the microFIT contract.
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Old 2010-07-05, 04:14 PM   #24
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Hi Helios, and welcome to the forum!

Sorry to hear about your situation.... you're going to have a lot of the local farmers pissed off at you, when it's not your fault at all.

Where did you see the "They promised that the rules would be in place for two years."
I think that statement could turn out to be very important.

For anybody who has a stake in this, there is a Web Seminar that you can call into, tomorrow afternoon... details found here...
http://microfit.powerauthority.on.ca...ing-Events.php

Call your local MPP, usually found in the front of your phone book.

Write to the Ontario Ombudsman...
http://www.ombudsman.on.ca/en/make-a...int-form.aspx?
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Old 2010-07-05, 04:29 PM   #25
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My take on insurance, in the absence of facts and information, is that this would be more in the area of 'contents/outbuildings' and not 'structure' - i.e. its not necessary to rebuild the PV system to make the house habitable. We're also quite overinsured... our agent redid the number a few years ago and it seemed a bit high at the time but values are catching up fast (plus it would be very hard to imagine a plausible scenario where the land was a total loss) and since contents/outbuildings are a percentage of the main dwelling we're still adequately below that.

As far as the finances, I think almost any rooftop installation over about 3kW will have an ROI well over 10%. As I said in the start of the thread, the income can be offset for tax purposes by the capital cost allowance until the entire cost has been used. Then, if you're an old fart (or a pending old fart like me) the income will be taxed in a lower/lowest bracket since my income in retirement will be quite modest.

You may be right about the domestic content requirements and the likelihood of being able to install a system before 2011 if you haven't submitted an application yet. From October 2009 when the program opened until I submitted my application at the end of April, I heard there were about 8,000 applications. If that has doubled in the last 10 weeks, I would be surprised if the turnaround on a new application (unless the process changes) would be before October. You might manage to install before the end of the year but I wouldn't count on it. You have to meet the content requirements on the date of commissioning, not on the date of the offer.

To tack on an update, I've just been in contact with the township and spoke to the chief building inspector himself. Maybe just to shut me up, but he's writing up the permit himself today so I've given the go-ahead to schedule with the installation company. We should be up this week or next.
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Old 2010-07-05, 04:47 PM   #26
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Milt: The OPA site has always had the wording 'The prices presented above are extracted from the FIT price schedule. Note that the OPA will review the FIT price schedule on a regular basis (approximately every two years).' but obviously that was not a guarantee.
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Old 2010-07-05, 06:03 PM   #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SlimDiesel View Post
As far as the finances, I think almost any rooftop installation over about 3kW will have an ROI well over 10%. As I said in the start of the thread, the income can be offset for tax purposes by the capital cost allowance until the entire cost has been used. Then, if you're an old fart (or a pending old fart like me) the income will be taxed in a lower/lowest bracket since my income in retirement will be quite modest.
This is why I didn't say too much detail. Everybody's circumstances are different. As a virtually old fart individual, no way it will even be 5% for me after tax, 3-4% likely if nothing much breaks over 20 years (except the inverter, that is almost guaranteed to, allowed for it); that's why I said "borderline" and "hobby" LOL. The only way anyone could reasonably get in the 10% ROI range over 20 years is if they're doing some of the installation and other work themselves, if they paid virtually no tax, paid cash, and installed during the 40% domestic content period. Also there is economy of scale to offset the fixed costs; we were looking at 3-4kW since that suited all of us, though some individuals (like me) could no doubt go bigger. Just saying... The Ontario government isn't giving anything away (I know this surprizes you!), they ran the same numbers we do. Some will benefit more, some less. It does seem that by far the best ROI would be on a ground installation in a non-suburban/city yard, probably a rural/farm residence (space on ground to avoid shade). Unless they change the rules. And of course if the building is completely an income property/business, that helps a lot.

For our TO area rooftop installs, we figure it'll take 10-12 years to write off our capital costs with income. 12 seems most likely for me after one inverter replacement, so that's 8 years to make any profit for the "20 year investment". You don't need to earn that much in Ontario/Canada to be in the highest tax bracket, plus I have no other write-offs right now, who knows later. My age figures in, no RRSP deductions during much of the "profitable period" and in fact they will have to have been closed/converted etc. during the contract period. Circumstances differ hugely for everybody, those are just some of the things I considered...did I mention I don't have a lot to do?

The lawyer who is part of our investigative cabal is pretty upset about what rights the microFIT contract gives to the Ontario government. I don't understand the words at all, but he picked it out pretty quickly so it must (??) be something quite obvious (to a real estate-oriented lawyer). Has to do with who owns the "rights" to your solar generation; he is certain it isn't the home-owner, and is certain the Ontario gov. has the right to sell any ensuing "benefits" to whoever they want, for whatever reason, whenever. For the duration of the contract period, which means you could be obligated to do something you (or the future house owner) don't prefer to do at some point. IOW, like any proper contract, there are matters of performance and benefit for both sides. Perhaps you know what he means, it was a week ago and I had enough trouble following it even when it was fresh...not a deal-breaker for me, but then I don't fully understand it. His example sounded like a far-fetched worst-case scenario to me, but I think he was just trying to make the point in a BIG way so we'd understand it without the legal gobbledy-gook...
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Old 2010-07-05, 07:38 PM   #28
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Thanks Slim,
I'm aware that it is NOT a guaratee, but I also recognize that 2 years is a long way from 8 months.
Do you have a link to the FIT price schedual?

You got your 'conditional contract' after 6 weeks (rooftop)
I'm still waiting, after 8 weeks, (ground mount stationary)
I'm curiouus as to why they are pushing through the roofmount applications.... my installer tells me they go through in 4 to 5 weeks now.
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Old 2010-07-06, 01:27 AM   #29
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cfraser: I don't know which inverters you are looking at, but mine, (Sunny Boy), come with a 20 year manufactures warranty.

The cost of my 10K stationary ground mount system is $67,530 all up, including taxes and everything else.
I don't need to lift a finger.
I WAS expecting to recoup $227,140, over the duraton of the 20 year contract.
I don't know how to calculate my ROI.
Can you help me with that calculation?
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Old 2010-07-06, 07:55 AM   #30
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For the pricing, just go to the program home page at http://microfit.powerauthority.on.ca/, open the 'microFit rules' section of the left column and click 'microFIT pricing' - it has been updated with the proposed ground-mount PV rate.
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