Green / Eco-Friendly

Ask me anything about selling electricity to the grid in Ontario

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Newbie
May 24, 2010
1 posts
Toronto
michelb wrote:
May 11th, 2010 9:24 am
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).
I bought a GS3 series 3.30kW system through a company out of Toronto 3 weeks ago and just received approval from OPA last week to make $0.802/kWh! I did quite a bit of research before choosing an installer and found one that offered a turnkey system. $23k plus gst got me all the equipment (15 panels, roof rack, inverter and meter, wiring, etc.) the installation, they walked me through the microFIT contract sign up (which I could have done myself) and gave a detailed design of where the panels would fit on my roof. They used a solar pathfinder analysis and gave me a projected annual revenue at around $3,700. Roof faces about 10 degrees off of south and my roof pitch is around 35 degrees. I have a small backyard facing our neighbors and no room for any trees that will grow tall enough to shade the system.

To answer some of these questions:
The price I paid included complete install and connection fees. I also got one free dismount and remount of the system included which I will eventually need since my home is 8 years old and will soon need roof work. A structural engineer IMO isnt really needed for such a small project. The average home roof in good shape can easily support the weight of the solar panels and potential snow load. An electrician will certainly be needed and is included in the install. I have to add the system to my home insurance but didnt really have a huge affect on what I pay already. If you put them on your roof, it doesnt change your property assessment value so I'm good there. Equipment degradation is factored in and also mentioned on my 25 year panel manufacturers warranty at 1% per year. Inverter has a 10 year warranty and will most likely need replacing between 10 and 15 years.

Needless to say my family and I are very excited and the install starts next week. From my research, I took into consideration the equipment used (panels and inverter), the cost of the job ($23k plus gst beat everyone else handsdown by about $4500 for the same equipment) PLUS I did not find anyone else who offered the free dismount and remount (however, they did stipulate that the offer was only valid with in the next 20 years but I plan on using it with in the next 5). Cost was a major factor but got a sole proprietorship which allows me to write off any revenue from the system until it is entirely paid off (visit your accountant for more info) and based on projected revenue (its projected, so take it for what its worth), our payback time is around 7 years.

Hope this info helps in your search.
Deal Addict
Jul 4, 2004
3717 posts
332 upvotes
Ottawa
Thanks for the input Forbes - it's great to see what others are doing to and sounds like you got a good price.

However it does point out one of the very common issues. The installer projected revenue of $3700 / year but according to the US National Renewable Energy Laboratory PV calculator (http://www.nrel.gov/rredc/pvwatts/version1.html) which is regarded as being accurate, a 3.3kw fixed install in Toronto should generate approx. $2900/year at $0.802/kwh. I certainly hope that the installer is correct and that the website is too low but it's something to keep in mind (I have not built a system yet but I'm using NRELs values to evaluate the numbers - if their numbers work for me and end up being low, that's excellent news for both of us).

Another issue to consider is if the purchase is being financed (or the opportunity cost if it isn't).

The way I see your breakeven is :

$23k+GST = $24,7k installed

Revenue:
$2900/year revenue -> $242/month

Expenses:
$5/month account fees
$4/month insurance costs (really have no idea so just guessing $50/year)
$17/month for future replacement ($2k inverter 10 years from now - again guessing costs (this value is actually probably too low - inverter is probably more than $2k))
-> $26/month expenses

So your net income is $216/month.

If you are financing the amount at 5%, in order to break even until the loan is paid off (nothing to pay out of pocker), you need a 13 year loan (which might bring up another issue in that you might not be able to get a 13 year loan on this and banks might insist on 7 or 10 year which means you would have to cover some of the loan payment out of pocket although of course, you'll pay it off faster).

Also my very simple cost analysis does not include income tax which you will have to pay and it also does not include equipment detereoration which is probably about 0.5-1% / year (i.e. at the end of 20 years, you might only be generating $2500/year instead of $2900) nor do I include inflation on account fees, insurance and replacement costs (PV panels will likely go down in price, inverters may not).

** edit ** : one thing I forgot to mention is that the PVWatts amount was based on install in Toronto (since that's where the posters location is listed) but it probably makes a difference where in Toronto it is compared to where exactly PVWatts get their readings for
Sr. Member
Jul 28, 2002
600 posts
28 upvotes
Toronto
I believe this setup would cost 25k to install....and payback would be 10 years....can op confirm?
99% of the stuff I own comes from RFD!
[OP]
Sr. Member
Mar 7, 2009
780 posts
12 upvotes
Forbes, that seems like a good price. Would you mind saying what brand and model of panel and inverter you bought?

You have a good roof angle, hopefully you have no shade?

The estimate may be a little high in my opinion.

We are a member of a group that tries to encourage professional solar system installations. They have collected data for all the systems they have been involved with in Ontario. They have found that 1kw of panels in Toronto will put out 1161 kw's of power. The math for your system would go like this

3.3 kw x 1161 kw's x .802 = $3072.70

http://www.ourpower.ca/solar_works

The brand of panels matters as well. Sanyos = good

That is how I would estimate a system in the GTA.
Deal Addict
Jul 4, 2004
3717 posts
332 upvotes
Ottawa
Heynow999 wrote:
May 25th, 2010 11:42 pm
...

We are a member of a group that tries to encourage professional solar system installations. They have collected data for all the systems they have been involved with in Ontario. They have found that 1kw of panels in Toronto will put out 1161 kw's of power. The math for your system would go like this

3.3 kw x 1161 kw's x .802 = $3072.70

http://www.ourpower.ca/solar_works

...
This re-iterates my point about the projected generation. The 3 systems listed on the above site avg 1120 kwh (and I'm guessing those might be among their better performers) (PVWatts rates it at 1095 kwh for Toronto so it's not far off). The previous quote for $3700/year is 1400 kwh which is more like what you'd get in Northen California, not Southern Ontario (which isn't as good as other parts of Ontario because of proximity to the Lakes).
Newbie
Aug 18, 2008
24 posts
Chatham
Some additional costing considerations. Solar for personal use is exempt from property tax assessment. Solar for sale into the grid is under review by MPAC but will likely be deemed commercial for assessment purposes. The impact of a commercial installation on top of say and agricultural barm is very unclear at this point in time. Think you can also expect the insurance costs to rise dramatically and there will probably be a yearly fee to inspect the grid connection.
[OP]
Sr. Member
Mar 7, 2009
780 posts
12 upvotes
michelb wrote:
May 26th, 2010 9:00 am
This re-iterates my point about the projected generation. The 3 systems listed on the above site avg 1120 kwh (and I'm guessing those might be among their better performers) (PVWatts rates it at 1095 kwh for Toronto so it's not far off). The previous quote for $3700/year is 1400 kwh which is more like what you'd get in Northen California, not Southern Ontario (which isn't as good as other parts of Ontario because of proximity to the Lakes).
I noticed that too. The easy explanation is that those 3 systems use Sanyos. They are the Rolls Royce of panels. Every panel has a tolerance that the output will be within. Typically it is +5%,-5% or +3%,-3% or something like that. A Sanyo will be +5%,-0% They simply underrate thier panels.
[OP]
Sr. Member
Mar 7, 2009
780 posts
12 upvotes
lyott wrote:
May 26th, 2010 3:14 pm
Some additional costing considerations. Solar for personal use is exempt from property tax assessment. Solar for sale into the grid is under review by MPAC but will likely be deemed commercial for assessment purposes. The impact of a commercial installation on top of say and agricultural barm is very unclear at this point in time. Think you can also expect the insurance costs to rise dramatically and there will probably be a yearly fee to inspect the grid connection.
I would have to do some research, but I am too tired right now. My understanding is that the Green Energy Act does not allow MPAC to raise your property tax if you put a renewable energy system on your property
Newbie
Aug 18, 2008
24 posts
Chatham
I think you will find that is only true for personal use systems.
Newbie
Apr 3, 2009
36 posts
8 upvotes
Forbes wrote:
May 25th, 2010 1:18 pm
They used a solar pathfinder analysis and gave me a projected annual revenue at around $3,700. Roof faces about 10 degrees off of south and my roof pitch is around 35 degrees. I have a small backyard facing our neighbors and no room for any trees that will grow tall enough to shade the system.
I expect you will get a lot closer to $3,200 / year versus $3,700 / year.
Newbie
Apr 3, 2009
36 posts
8 upvotes
Forbes wrote:
May 25th, 2010 1:18 pm
PLUS I did not find anyone else who offered the free dismount and remount .
You mean if they are in business 5, 10 or 20 years from now......
Newbie
Apr 3, 2009
36 posts
8 upvotes
michelb wrote:
May 26th, 2010 9:00 am
(PVWatts rates it at 1095 kwh for Toronto so it's not far off).
PVWATTS really does not rate it at 1095 so much as defaults to a 0.77 capacity factor which is under your control in PVWATTS.

1150 is a safe number to use, though 1,200 is doable with micro-inverters for a small installation. Microinverters do not have any better efficiency over a central inverter, but they will eliminate much of the mismatch that may occur from dirt, bird droppings, etc. (not just shade), not to mention panel mismatch, etc.

In terms of Rolls-Royce, Sanyo have some of the highest efficiencies, but that does not give you the highest output per watt installed. Currently that crown likely goes to SolarWorld at least from a tested perspective.

Many suppliers are now rating their panels as -0%, +X percent whatever that may be. This certainly helps to reduce mismatching.
Deal Addict
Jul 4, 2004
3717 posts
332 upvotes
Ottawa
semiman wrote:
May 29th, 2010 9:43 pm
PVWATTS really does not rate it at 1095 so much as defaults to a 0.77 capacity factor which is under your control in PVWATTS.

1150 is a safe number to use, though 1,200 is doable with micro-inverters for a small installation. Microinverters do not have any better efficiency over a central inverter, but they will eliminate much of the mismatch that may occur from dirt, bird droppings, etc. (not just shade), not to mention panel mismatch, etc.

...
That's true about the capacity factor but the poster didn't mention if he was using micro-inverters or regular so I didn't change it.

For micro-inverters, Enphase suggests using 0.819 which 'boosts' PVWatts rating to 1168. But again that depends on where you are in Toronto and what they use as a reference point. Either way, we're taking about less than $100/kw/year difference; I was only pointing out to be suspicious of very large expectations from installers and to go in with achievable targets.

It's also important that these values are calculated using ZERO shade - any shade (e.g. trees, roof vent, chimney, sat dish / TV antenna, etc will have significant impact on performance). This is particularly important for string inverters. For those considering installs in the city, you really have to factor in the shade and especially think of how it can / will change over the next 20 years (e.g. in 10 years, the neighbors tree could be twice as high - will that shade your array for part of the day?)
Newbie
Jun 1, 2009
27 posts
1 upvote
brampton
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.

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
so how much did it end up costing before rebates and how big is the system.
Jr. Member
User avatar
Mar 17, 2008
102 posts
103 upvotes
Oshawa
We received the OurPower online solar assessment for our site recently.

It indicated we could have a 3.4 kilowatts system with a financial payback of around 9 year if we paid for it upfront with our own funds or about a 10 year payback if we used 70% financing.

If interested you can see the details in this OurPower solar site assessment piece we wrote.

We have had one of the OurPower recommended vendors in which indicated we could support a 4.48 killowatts solar system using 20 - 224 wall Sharp solar panels. It also incuded a much faster financial payback.

I am told that the OurPower assessment is very conservative by those that are supposed to know about such things.

We are still looking at our options before committing.

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