FAQ

Basically, they are incentives (or subsidies). All sorts of industries (e.g. nuclear, oil & gas, hydro, etc) receive subsidies of various sorts. Some receive direct cash, (for R&D, for example). Some receive rebates direct to end-users (like the Peaksaver program). Some receive low interest loans or tax breaks. The PV industry has decided to support Feed In Tariffs as a policy mechanism designed to accelerate the adoption of its technology. We like them because they reward good behavior and punish bad behavior and are the closest thing we've seen to an incentive mechanism that best reflects natural market forces.

Feed in Tariffs pay for energy produced from renewable sources at a premium rate. The rate is set to offer investors in the technology a fair return on their money. This is what drives the market forward. The idea is that, over time, the increased demand will reduce the cost of supply. When this happens the rate is reduced to maintain the fair return for the investor. In Ontario, the rate is controlled by the Ontario Power Authority (OPA). In order for Feed in Tariffs to be successful they require:

  • Fair and equal access to the grid for all (can't favour only one type of investor)
  • Long term contracts (investors need stability and security)
  • Attractive pricing (needs to produce a fair return on investment)

In Ontario, anyone can invest from homeowners and community groups to large corporate developers. Also in Ontario, it is the electricity rate base (everyone with an electric bill) that pay for the premium rate; it doesn't come from tax revenues. This means that if you conserve energy, you will pay less of the premium for the FIT program than someone who consumes lots of energy. A larger burden is placed on those who consume larger quantities of energy, rewarding conservation.

Feed in Tariffs have proven successful in other parts of the world, most notably in Europe. Worldwide, the solar industry is growing and prices are coming down. Ontario's Feed in Tariff program is an example of this province pulling it's weight and getting behind a global movement to accelerate the market readiness of renewable technology.

The easiest way is to contact us, we'll guide you through the process. If you want to do it on your own, start at the Ontario Power Authority website.

Yes. FIT and MicroFIT pricing is set to permit a "reasonable rate of return" for system owners that, when the program was launched, was around 11 percent. Actual return will vary depending on system cost, which has generally be dropping. Call us to arrange a Quote for your particular application.

For more information on tax implications of FIT and MicroFIT revenue, see Canada Revenue Agency's FIT and MicroFIT FAQ web page.

The program rules indicate that general program terms are reviewed every couple of years. Pricing is to be revised every year for January 1. The review will begin in the preceding November. Anyone with an existing contract or contract offer as of November will keep their contract price for the life of the contract. Only new contracts, applied for after the cutoff in November, will be subject to the new price.

Generally, no. Cleaning snow off roof mounted solar modules poses risks to you and your equipment and we recommend against taking these risks.

Solar arrays that face East or West will not perform as well as those facing between South-East and South-West. Expect to lose on the order of 20 to 25% of performance for an array facing due East or West compared to one facing South.

Solar arrays that face South and have an angle of between 30 and 35 degrees (measured to the horizontal, roughly corresponds to a 7/12 pitch) are best. However the degradation in system performance is small for shallower or steeper roofs. Roof pitch is not a barrier to installing a system.

Keep an eye on your system's energy output at least monthly. This can be as easy as checking the monthly payments from the utility. Do a visual inspection of the entire system, even just from the ground, at least yearly. Look for any parts that have moved or show signs of mechanical wear or storm damage. Look for wires hanging down and any signs of animal damage. Binoculars might be handy for this.

Monitoring the energy output can be facilitated by an optional web-based monitoring tool. This will allow you to monitor your system performance anytime, from anywhere, including on a mobile device. The system call also send you (and us) email alerts if there's a potential problem and we can often diagnose problems without a site visit.

The most common service would be an inverter repair or replacement. The inverter is, after all, the most complex part of the entire system. Inverter failures are very rare, but if they do occur it'll most likely be within the first 3 months of service. Inverter warrantees are generally 10 years and, with a design life of 25+ years, the inverter should outlast the 20 year MicroFIT contract.

All PV panels degrade over time, somewhere between 0.5% and 1% per year and flattening out over time. PV panels come with a 25 year performance warrantee that corresponds to a little under 1% per year of performance degradation. The warrantee is usually for 90% performance after 10 years, and 80% performance after 25 years. The performance is relative to the nameplate performance of the PV module.

Contrary to common belief, solar panels are NOT all the same. A panel is a very simple device, in that it has no moving parts and requires no maintenance, but there are broad variations in the overall design of the panel, the quality of the parts it's made from, and the quality of its construction. A high quality panel will have a better components and better construction and the result is a higher 'energy yield' over its lifetime than a lower quality panel. In the FIT and MicroFIT program, more energy = more revenue over the lifetime of the contract. There are many factors that affect module (panel) quality; call us if you'd like more detail.

Module efficiency is separate from quality however, since both quality and efficiency command a premium price, most high efficiency modules are also high quality modules. Module efficiency is mainly a factor when roof space is limited. Efficiency is a measurement of output per unit of area, so a small roof can produce more energy by using a high efficiency module. On a larger roof, where space is not a constraint, lower system cost can be achieved buy using high quality, mid efficiency, modules.

We sell only modules that we feel are high quality and offer good 'long term energy yield', be they mid or high efficiency.

No. Electricity Generation Equipment is exempt from assessment per Section 3.18 of the Assessment Act.

Yes! Canada Revenue Agency allows HST claims on eligible MicroFIT projects. The purchase and installation of MicroFIT solar systems will be interpreted as a 'Capital Personal Property', which is eligible for an HST ITC. See here for a relevant information sheet.

Or skip the HST number and just capitalize the HST along with your system cost and connection cost, then depreciate the whole shootin' match year after year. Consult a tax adviser for details.

There are many reasons to choose solar but a good place to start is by evaluating your objectives. What are you ultimately after? A return on your investment? A greener planet? Energy security? All are valid objectives; try to prioritize them. Be honest. Your prioritized objectives will help us point you in a direction that will best satisfy you. This might even be away from solar - that's OK - we're not pushy. For example, if you are after energy security and a return on your investment, these two objectives rarely align (unless you are building a new home miles from the power lines). But if you are after a greener planet and a return on your investment a FIT, microFIT, or net metered grid-tied solar electric system might be what you're looking for.

Call us for a chat about your objectives and whether solar can meet them. We can discuss the pros and cons of all types of systems.

Experience

Renewable energy contracting has been our exclusive focus since our founding in 1998. We've installed hundreds of systems in a wide variety of settings. We do all our own installations and we excel at problem solving and tackling complicated jobs. We teach renewable energy, have consulted to federal and provincial policy development committees, and we have been active in our industry association, occupying board positions for many years.

Qualifications

Generation Solar is a Licensed Electrical Contractor. Our principals are Professional Engineers and Licensed Tradesmen. Our crew is covered by WSIB and carry appropriate training certifications. We carry $5M in contractors liability insurance.

Capability

Generation Solar is a small and flexible organization with broad skills. We adapt to meet our clients' needs.

Professionalism

We are professionals, first. We pride ourselves in building high quality client relationships and in being reliable and trustworthy. Most of our new business comes from referrals and our client feedback is consistently positive. We love what we do, and it shows.

References available.

It has been a great pleasure working with you, the project has gone very smoothly. We are very pleased and we look forward to continuing our relationship with you over the next 20 years as we generate power.
I was a great relief to find Generation Solar, after having numerous unpleasant dealings with my initial installer. Their responsiveness and professionalism were top notch. They represented me in dealings with my equipment manufacturer over a warranty issue and produced results that I don't feel I could have on my own. Most importantly, they did what they said they would and kept me informed every step of the way. I would not hesitate recommending Generation Solar and look forward to a continued relationship with them.
I just wanted to let you know how pleased we are with the system you and your team installed. Things have been running great. Checking the inverter for the daily output has been part of my routine, and I enjoy counting the kW. Thanks so much for all the work, professionalism and guidance on this project. You and your team are great.
Wanted you to know that Jackson and Geordie were Amazing and very helpful, hard working in the heat. They did an Awesome job and were very tidy, a hot weather bonus is probably in order though they did say they love working for you.

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