Saturday, March 18, 2006

Ontario First to Subsidize Solar Power

All right, I'm back. I'd been sick on Tuesday and Wednesday, and went to a concert last night, leaving little time to save the world. But I woke up this monring and saw that it was still here so that's good.

A headline that grabbed my eye yesterday. Christine has had the itch to change homes for a little while now (oh, I so look forward to moving the bed down my narrow, narrow staircase...) and thought as an option to look for land just outside the city and have our own built, but as "green" as we want it to be (which is pretty green). It may not be financially feasible, who knows? But it's worth looking into because homes in town are ridiculously expensive anyway. And it's not like we're in any real rush.

So this article drew my attention. I don't know how it would affect our own situation; we'd prefer to actually use the power we generate. But it's nice to see that some encouragement is there.

Ontario will soon offer Canada's first subsidy to homeowners or businesses that install solar electric power.

The incentive - 42 cents for every kilowatt-hour of electricity produced - is to be announced Tuesday by Premier Dalton McGuinty, industry sources said Thursday.

To produce solar power, an average house would need a system that costs $20,000 to $30,000 and all the electricity generated would be sold to the local utility.

It would be worth $1,000 to $1,500 a year but homeowners would continue to buy their power from the utility at the current rate which is now under 6 cents a kilowatt-hour. With the energy savings, the system could be paid off in 20 to 25 years. That's when the main payoff begins, since the equipment is expected to last 40 to 60 years.

Although among the most generous in North America, the program won't cover the entire cost of installing equipment that converts the sun's energy into electricity. The solar subsidy will be part of a new incentive plan known as Standard Offer Contracts.

Under the contracts, those who generate electricity from solar and other renewable sources will be paid for all the power they produce. The other sources -- mainly wind, but also wood waste, manure or other biological sources -- will earn 11 cents a kilowatt hour. The contracts will run 20 years and apply to projects with a generating capacity of up to 10 megawatts, or enough to supply about 3,300 average homes. The contracts are expected to lead to the installation of about 15,000 solar systems, with a total capacity of 40 megawatts. After that, growth should speed up until, by 2025, solar capacity hits 1,200 megawatts.

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