Green / Eco-Friendly

Ask me anything about selling electricity to the grid in Ontario

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[OP]
Sr. Member
Mar 7, 2009
780 posts
11 upvotes

Ask me anything about selling electricity to the grid in Ontario

*full disclosure* I install solar systems in the Toronto area. I also have PV panels on my house where I sell power back to the grid. This is how I did it.

I know there are some threads that are about the Green energy act and some threads about installing PV panels. I wanted to start a thread about how to sell electricity back to the grid in Ontario. I have talked via PM's with many people about this and I think the information would be usefull in it's own thread.

To start the process I would first determine if you have a good spot for solar panels. The spot you choose should face south east to south west with as close to south being the best. If it is going on a roof, a slope of around 30 degrees is best, but there is a large window where the angle will make little difference. You should have no shade between 9am and 3 pm.

The OPA (Ontario power authority) administers the program. They give out the 20 year contract. You apply online to the OPA after you have determined you have a good spot for solar panels. The approval may take a few weeks. Anything under 10kw should be approved easily. Over 10kw needs an enviromental assessment but my understanding is that it is easy to do.

Most people start the process by talking to a solar installer so they usually have an idea of how big a system they can put on thier roof. When you make your application to OPA you will need to tell them how big of a system you want to install, and how you will meet the Ontario Requirements. In 2010 all you have to do to meet the requirement is use a rack made in Ontario. In 2011 it gets tougher and probably more expensive so if you are seriously considering a PV project I would try to do it before Jan 1, 2011.

So once you get your approval from the OPA you can build your project. You or your electriction will need an electrical permit from your local hydro provider. You don't need to ask you hydro provider for permission to put up panels, you already have that permission from OPA. You will need to install a second meter called a revenue meter that will measure how much electricity you produce and feed back into the grid. You will be paid 80.2 cents per KW (which is huge!) so you want to sell everything you produce and buy your hydro back at 12 cents/Kw. The revenue meter will be connected behind your hydro meter. What that means is that any electricity you produce will be used by your house first and any extra will be sent out to the grid. (you will still be paid for everything you produce) The reason they do it this way is that when your revenue meter is installed they only have to shut your meter off, not other houses on the street. If they hooked your revenue meter up in front of your comsumption meter, they may have to shut off other houses on the street so the wires are dead going to your house so they can hook it up.

Your meter will cost you about $1,000 and your account fee will be $7 to $15 a month, depending on your local Hydro company.

So your panels get installed, your meter is in place, you flip the switch and start making money...But now you have to wait for your local hydro company to get the paperwork back to OPA to tell them you are hooked up. OPA has said that they will pay you from as soon as you start producing even though you will not have your contract with OPA finalized. So don't worry that you are feeding the grid and you don't have a contract yet. OPA will eventually send you a final contract via email (they do EVERYTHING by email) which you approve and send back to them. Then you just have to sit back and wait for your cheque. I believe you have a choice of direct deposit our getting a cheque. The meter is only read every 3 months so it may be a while until you get a cheque.


I have 2.5 KW on my house and I finished all the paperwork about a month ago. I am awaiting my first cheque. On the first day of the program in late September I woke up at 6am and put in my application. I was one of the first group of 700 contracts that were awarded before Christmas. I got my final contract in April. It took me a long time to get all the paperwork from OPA but my understanding is they are much faster now that the initial rush is over.
71 replies
Deal Addict
Dec 19, 2004
2975 posts
21 upvotes
Nice post on the process.

Is there an online calculator that details the ROI on this?

It won`t work at my house but think it might make sense for my parents.

$.82 is an amazing rate.
this site is like a drug. Its forum is the drug dealer.
Deal Addict
User avatar
Mar 8, 2002
4211 posts
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Ottawa
I haven't read the contract or terms, but what if the government down the road decides to disband OPA or unilaterally tear up FIT contracts by passing legislation? Are individuals and companies who bought into this left holding the bag?
[OP]
Sr. Member
Mar 7, 2009
780 posts
11 upvotes
Rosico wrote:
May 9th, 2010 10:36 pm
Nice post on the process.

Is there an online calculator that details the ROI on this?

It won`t work at my house but think it might make sense for my parents.

$.82 is an amazing rate.
http://rredc.nrel.gov/solar/calculators ... /version1/

click on Canada on the right side, choose your city, hit start.

Change the Energy rate to ".802"
[OP]
Sr. Member
Mar 7, 2009
780 posts
11 upvotes
MacGyver wrote:
May 9th, 2010 10:46 pm
I haven't read the contract or terms, but what if the government down the road decides to disband OPA or unilaterally tear up FIT contracts by passing legislation? Are individuals and companies who bought into this left holding the bag?
Anything is possible, but if I were to sign a long term contract with an organization, I can't think of one more stable than the Ontario Government. Anyway, they worked the cost into hydro rates so it costs the government nothing. Why would they cancel a green feel-good program that costs nothing?
Deal Addict
Dec 18, 2006
1855 posts
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How much did the entire setup end up costing you, including the solar panels & batteries/generators etc?
Deal Addict
Jul 4, 2004
3608 posts
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Ottawa
Heynow999 wrote:
May 9th, 2010 11:47 am
... Anything under 10kw should be approved easily. Over 10kw needs an enviromental assessment but my understanding is that it is easy to do.

Most people start the process by talking to a solar installer so they usually have an idea of how big a system they can put on thier roof. When you make your application to OPA you will need to tell them how big of a system you want to install, and how you will meet the Ontario Requirements. In 2010 all you have to do to meet the requirement is use a rack made in Ontario. In 2011 it gets tougher and probably more expensive so if you are seriously considering a PV project I would try to do it before Jan 1, 2011.

...

Your meter will cost you about $1,000 and your account fee will be $7 to $15 a month, depending on your local Hydro company.

...
Thanks for the info.

A few points to clarify:

- Under 10kw (microFIT) and over 10kw (FIT) are two different category altogether and many of the same rules don't apply (e.g. For FIT, you'll need to put up security deposits, I believe you'll need a connection assessment and many urban areas in the province will not accept further capacity (e.g. if someone else has already applied for a 10MW project, they have several years (3, I believe) to complete it and it's very likely that the current system will not accept more generation so until local hydro supplier upgrades (or the person that made the initial request withdraws it), you will not be allowed to connect), you may need different inverters (microFIT connects at 240V, FIT may need to be connected at 208V), the provincial content requirements are not the same (I believe FIT requires higher provincial content), most importantly, $0.82 is only for microFIT, FIT has a downward sliding price scale, etc).

- Meter / connection costs vary between $750 and $1500 and more.

- generator account fees have been mandated throughout the province at $5.95/month (or something like that) (i.e. they all have to charge the same).
Deal Addict
User avatar
Mar 8, 2002
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Heynow999 wrote:
May 10th, 2010 5:34 am
Why would they cancel a green feel-good program that costs nothing?
This deal certainly does NOT cost nothing. It costs customers of the provincial electricity grid money, and those customers also happen to be voters who are all going to be royally annoyed at the rate at which their electricity bills are going to increase.

I'm not trying to be difficult, but I would really like to know what protection FIT has against this becoming an election issue.
[OP]
Sr. Member
Mar 7, 2009
780 posts
11 upvotes
MacGyver wrote:
May 10th, 2010 3:33 pm
This deal certainly does NOT cost nothing. It costs customers of the provincial electricity grid money, and those customers also happen to be voters who are all going to be royally annoyed at the rate at which their electricity bills are going to increase.

I'm not trying to be difficult, but I would really like to know what protection FIT has against this becoming an election issue.
I don't know. I know about the technical side of it not the political side.
[OP]
Sr. Member
Mar 7, 2009
780 posts
11 upvotes
y2jversion1 wrote:
May 10th, 2010 9:34 am
How much did the entire setup end up costing you, including the solar panels & batteries/generators etc?
My system does not have batteries. Batteries add cost to an already expensive system and do not increase the payback.

I installed my system about 2 years ago when Hydro One had a rebate program. I got a really good deal on my panels, I installed it myself and I got several thousands in rebates. My total cost may have been $8k? The retail cost for a system like mine would be about $20k
Deal Addict
Jul 4, 2004
3608 posts
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Ottawa
y2jversion1 wrote:
May 10th, 2010 9:34 am
How much did the entire setup end up costing you, including the solar panels & batteries/generators etc?
Heynow999 wrote:
May 10th, 2010 9:49 pm
My system does not have batteries. Batteries add cost to an already expensive system and do not increase the payback.

...
You CANNOT have batteries / generator in the system if you plan on participating in microFIT or FIT.
Deal Addict
Jul 4, 2004
3608 posts
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Ottawa
MacGyver wrote:
May 10th, 2010 3:33 pm
This deal certainly does NOT cost nothing. It costs customers of the provincial electricity grid money, and those customers also happen to be voters who are all going to be royally annoyed at the rate at which their electricity bills are going to increase.

I'm not trying to be difficult, but I would really like to know what protection FIT has against this becoming an election issue.
It could certainly become an election issue and there's certainly no guarantee that people signing up next year or in 2 years or later, might not get $0.70kw or even $0.50kw but the OPA is essentially the part of the Ontario provincial government. Short of the province being overthrown (and if that happens, your solar array is probably the least of your worries), these contracts are basically unbreakable.

Also keep in mind that this purpose of program is two-fold; first is to replace part of Ontario power generation with clean alternatives but the other is job creation so the province expects that it will lose money on the program. That said, you're correct that hydro customers will likely foot the bill for this but you also have to factor in that the generation will probably only cover a fraction (maybe 10%) of the power generated so it really isn't that big of an impact on your actual hydro bill.
Deal Guru
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Jun 28, 2004
10349 posts
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Does it make economic sense to do this?
ie. what are the upfront costs (ie. panels + installation + administration fees) vs. monthly (quarterly?) revenues.. and how long can the panels be expected to continue operating (and what warranty do they have)?
So long. I'm outta here.
[OP]
Sr. Member
Mar 7, 2009
780 posts
11 upvotes
d_jedi wrote:
May 11th, 2010 4:46 am
Does it make economic sense to do this?
ie. what are the upfront costs (ie. panels + installation + administration fees) vs. monthly (quarterly?) revenues.. and how long can the panels be expected to continue operating (and what warranty do they have)?
That's the whole point of the program. The Government has set the rate high enough so that someone can expect a good return on thier money. You can expect about a %9 return guaranteed for 20 years.

The upfront costs are about $8,000 per KW and one Kw of panels in the Toronto area will earn about $922/yr minus your account fees.

PV panels typically come with a 20 year warranty that says they will produce at least %80 of thier rated output after 20 years. What that means is after 20 years you will still have a system that produces power. Who knows what programs will be available in 20 years but I assume that electricity rates will rise so much that you will just use the power yourself at that point.
Deal Addict
Jul 4, 2004
3608 posts
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Ottawa
d_jedi wrote:
May 11th, 2010 4:46 am
Does it make economic sense to do this?
ie. what are the upfront costs (ie. panels + installation + administration fees) vs. monthly (quarterly?) revenues.. and how long can the panels be expected to continue operating (and what warranty do they have)?
That's kind of what everyone wants to figure out and depending who you ask, you get different opinions. No doubt that $0.82kw is very generous and probably largest offered anywhere but is it enough?

Obviously it's important to factor all the costs. If you get a quote for a system (e.g. $8k mentioned above), does it include connection cost to hydro system and meter? does it include all permits and related costs (e.g. if you need a structural engineer to evaluate your roof to assess the load before you can get a permit)? does it include costs such as insurance, possible property value increase (I believe it's not suppose to affect it but I'd want to double check with your municipality), accounting costs and factor in income tax (this is business income and is taxable). does the amount include an electrictian or is it just for the equipment and install? You also have to factor equipment failure - the panels might be rated for 20 or 25 years but the inverter may not be and that might have to be replaced after 12 years. You also have to consider the roof itself; will it need re-shingling in 10 years? If so, you have to factor the cost of removing the solar array and then re-installing it. You also have to consider your income and equipment degradation (on year one, you might get $1000/yr/kw but after 5 years, you might just get $900/yr/kw - it's still within the acceptable wear limits but it's less output and less income) and the projections are based on optimal inclination and orientation, is it possible that part of the array will be in the shade now or later (if your neighbor is close and has trees, 10 years from now, if your array is in the shade part of the day, that will affect your income), etc.

In all fairness, personally, I do believe there's potential in the program and I am interested but it needs to be considered carefully and you also have to factor the size (could be that at 10kw at $8/kw (after factoring all expenses) it works but 2kw at $10kw it doesn't).

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