We’re Going Solar At Our House
Let the sun shine in, we’ll take it with a grin…
Funny how life unfolds. For the purpose of research for this blog, a few months ago I wrote a post about the Ontario microFIT solar program. The more I read, the more excited I got about the opportunity this program could offer. We decided to contact a few solar contractors to learn more and well, one thing led to another. In less than a month from now, we’ll have solar panels on our roof at home in Collingwood.
Under the microFIT program, the Ontario Power Authority will offer a contract to buy power back from you at a rate of 80.2 cents per kW hour from a qualified roof top system. This rate is GUARANTEED for 20 years. This means that all of the power generated by such a system is fed back into the grid and not into our home.
Our first step was to fill in a simple online application form which carried no cost, risk or commitment. At this stage, I was taking the steps only to see how it worked. In the weeks that followed, we spoke to more contractors, did more research and spoke to over a dozen homeowners in the Province who had already installed systems.
During this phase, we learned that our roof was ideal for a roof top system. The best returns could come from a maximum 10 kW system and our large, gently sloped roof could fit that large of an installation. We had installed new 40 year roof shingles just two years ago and, our roof faces due south with no shading from neighbouring buildings or trees. In short, optimal conditions for solar. How lucky was that?
We learned that there are many, many variables to take into account when choosing the system. The size overall, the size and style of panels, the type of inverters used.. all at variable costs and rates of return. There are potentially additional costs such as engineering reports, building permits, meter connections and of course a big chunk for HST. In the end, a full sized system would run anywhere from $75,000 to $85,000 in total. (Don’t stop reading after you finish groaning.)
We learned that a full-sized system in Collingwood could generate returns of $12,000 or more annually and, that projections based on satellite readings were fairly accurate. We looked hard at the numbers. If you have no money but you have equity in your home or other possible sources of credit, you could install a full system with no money down, pay it off in 8 to 10 years and still put over $120,000 in your pocket over the remaining years. In addition, your home is more valuable and best of all, you are contributing to a healthier world with an alternative energy source.
This really became a no-brainer. The more we learned, the more we wondered, why wouldn’t we do this? For us, the biggest decision was making a commitment to stay in our home for at least the next 8 to 10 years. Once we decided we could do that, we took the next step.