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Energetic rooftops

Friday July 23, 2010

By Jodi Lundmark, tbnewswatch.com

The city’s first pair of rooftop solar arrays was installed Friday at two north-side businesses.
A 10-kilowatt array was installed on top of Northern Lights Credit Union Amber Drive branch this afternoon and work has already started on neighbouring business Dufresne Furniture and Appliances’ roof.

Vice-president of lending Brian MacDonald said it’s exciting for the credit union to be the first in Thunder Bay to have the rooftop units. “Northern Lights Credit Union has had a green movement on for a little bit,” he said, adding they wanted to promote energy savings and produce clean energy themselves. “It’s important to us.”

The two installations are part of the Ontario Power Authority’s microFIT program, where Ontario residents can produce energy and sell it back to the OPA’s power grid. Part of the credit union’s green financing programs allows for people seeking loans for solar projects pay little out of pocket and pay it back with the revenue generated from the array. For rooftop installations, the OPA will pay 80.2 cents per kilowatt; the installation on Northern Lights Credit Union will produce 17,000 kilowatts per year.

“The power generated by this solar array pays for the array itself,” said Rob Coffey, general manager for Dufresne Furniture and Appliances. “Once your array is paid for, it continues to produce energy and continues to generate income for years to come.” “It is absolutely a sound business investment because where else can you guarantee a 10 per cent or better rate of return for 20 years guaranteed by the Ontario government?” Coffey added.

Both arrays were installed by local company Solar Logix. General manager Jason Ritchat said they’ve worked to get where they are and are proud to have installed Thunder Bay’s first rooftop solar array. It’s also an exciting time for solar energy, he said. “The main benefits are first that you get to create clean power,” Ritchat said. “The other benefit is the profit. They actually get to do something good for the environment and make money at the same time.”

The solar arrays come with a 20-year contract with the OPA and while the going price is 80.2 cents a kilowatt, the price for ground installations may change to 58.8 cents per kilowatt. The proposed price change would put the ground installations on par with the rooftop ones because they generate 25 per cent more energy. Ritchat said the decision will come after Aug. 3, but the new price won’t affect rooftop solar arrays.

Solar projects get nod for provincial contracts

SOURCE: The Chronicle Journal

Northwestern Ontario power producers have taken a small bite out of the province’s green energy Feed-In Tariff program, according to the latest project approvals by the Ontario Power Authority.

Two solar power projects, one in Dorion Township and the other in Terrace Bay, are among the first largest power generators to obtain contracts through Ontario’s Feed-In-Tariff (FIT) program. They were among 510 new green energy projects, most of them solar power installations, approved across the province this week.

Thunder Bay-Superior North MPP Michael Gravelle said Friday that the projects bring the benefits to the region.

“Our province’s electricity future will be spurred by initiatives like these that capture the rays of the sun, the force of wind, water and of renewable gases to light our homes and power our businesses,” he said.

He added that “everyone in Northwestern Ontario should take pride in these developments and look forward to those still to come.”

The successful regional applicants are: Cyntech Corp. of Dorion Township, for a 250 kilowatts solar project; and TNT Properties of Terrace Bay, for a 40-kilowatt solar project.

The 510 projects are to be built in 120 communities across Ontario by farmers, municipalities, local distribution companies, commercial businesses, industrial customers, public institutions such as schools and hospitals, a winery and even a church. The projects range from 10 kilowatts to 500 kilowatts and have a total generating capacity of 112 megawatts, enough energy to power more than 13,000 homes.

About 95 per cent of the projects are for solar generation with the remaining being: bio-mass (one), biogas (20), water (four), and onshore wind (three) projects.

A detailed list of the projects is available on the Ontario Power Authority’s website: www.fit.powerauthority.on.ca.

FIT encourages the development of renewable energy projects from a diverse range of producers, including homeowners, schools, farmers, large retailers and small businesses, by offering long-term, stable prices for the electricity generated.

“Everybody is participating from everywhere in Ontario, from farmers, schools and hospitals to large scale retail and commercial operations,” said Energy and Infrastructure Minister Brad Duguid.

“These projects will create a new source of income while providing new clean and green electricity in Ontario, particularly on hot, sunny summer days when demand soars. With our new domestic content rules, these projects will also help create new green collar jobs here in Ontario, as well as major economic investments in equipment services here at home,” he added.

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