In 2009, the Government of Ontario introduced its Green Energy Act intended to expandrenewable energy production, encourageenergy conservation and have an overall reduction in a growing pollution problem. Notably amongst the clauses of the act was the introduction of the MicroFIT Program, a solarforhomeinitiative that would encourage homeowners to move ahead with solar electricity for home production in Ontario. The program was the first of it’s kind in North America.
With the introduction of the MicroFIT Program , qualified homeowners were able to install solar panels and feed electricity into Ontario’s electrical grid. This initiative provided much needed clean electricity to offset existing harmful forms of electricity generation such as coal burning power plants, while in parallel providing strong returns and profits for homeowners.
In 2014, the last of Ontario’s 5 coal burning power plants was shut down and it was officially made illegal to open any more. Although not the only contributor to a growing pollution problem in the province – shutting down coal helped contribute to a reduction in smog days from as many as 53 days in 2005 to 0 in both 2014 and 2015. A highly welcomed change and one that is already reflected in residents’ overall health. A 2016 Toronto Vital Signs report shows a 23% drop in premature deaths and a 41% drop in hospitalizations caused by air pollution since 2004.
With the MicroFIT Program drawing to it’s close, the 50MW allocated to the MicroFIT Program for 2017 has a remainder of 28MW as of July 07, 2017.
Below we’ve provided some answers to some frequently asked questions about Ontario’s home solar program:
Q: How does the MicroFIT home solar program work for homeowners in Ontario looking to take advantage?
A: Qualified homeowners are eligible to earn a guaranteed rate for 20 years of $0.288 – $0.313 /KWH generated and sold into the grid from home solar panels. Under the MicroFIT program, homeowners are permitted up to a 10KW solar system. Once a design is generated and a homeowner is happy with the earning potential, our installers do a site inspection to ensure feasibility and then move to apply for a MicroFIT contract on the owner’s behalf.
Q: How can homeowners still benefit with solar for their home?
Although the MicroFIT Program is drawing to an end, with less than 150 days left, homeowners can still apply and benefit financially from home solar panels. Given Canada is north of the equator and the sun is lower in the sky resulting in longer shadows in the winter months, the ideal homes for solar panels are ones with little to no obstructions. This includes homes that have little to no shadows from trees and southern and/or eastern/western roof exposure.
Q: How much can homeowners earn with home solar panels?
The MicroFIT Program is a one of a kind program. Generally homeowners in Ontario see a 8-12 year payback with roughly an equal percentage ROI 9-12%. Under MicroFIT we’re seeing profits of $15,000-$40,000 over the lifetime of the MicroFIT contract. Afterwhich homeowners use the system to offset their hydro bill directly at the equivalent rate of hydro 20 years from now.These earnings are typically met when a homeowners moves ahead with a cash purchase or finance program.
Q: Is there a way to pay nothing and still go solar for your home?
Yes, many of our installers have a profit share program, often referred to as a Guaranteed Funding Program, whereby a homeowner would provide the roof space and the solar installer would provide and own the solar panel system for the term of MicroFIT. The installer benefits from MicroFIT pay and profit shares with the homeowner. Insurance and maintenance is fully covered by the installer, there are no credit checks and a homeowners earns between $2,300 – $18,000 depending on the profit sharing option they choose. After the 20 year term the homeowner owns the system and is able to offset their hydro bill directly.
Q: So what’s next in home solar in Ontario?
The other solar for home program available currently and going forth is direct net-metering. With this program you offset your hydro bill at the current rate of hydro and therefore save roughly half of what you could earn under MicroFIT. One other important note homeowners should consider when looking into solar is that the MicroFIT (solar electricity for home) is a guaranteed contract which the government CANNOT break. However, if hydro rates increase and net-metering makes more sense, homeowners can opt out of the MicroFIT Program at anytime.