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Energetic rooftops

Friday July 23, 2010

By Jodi Lundmark,

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.

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Solar Logix helped produce:

That's enough energy to power:

  • Homes 265
  • Lights 2767
  • Acres Saved 17,247