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Grid parity in Ontario April 17, 2013

Posted by Maury Markowitz in FIT program, solar.
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Talking to several local installers, I’m finding that 10 kW microFIT systems can go in at as little as $32,000, fully commissioned. In power-industry lingo, that’s $3.20 a watt (update: I’ve since seen $2.60!). And if you’re not on microFIT and don’t need Ontario content, you can cut another 20 cents off that.

The effective cost of electricity from solar PV is basically a function of the cost of the system and pretty much nothing else. So what rate do we get when we plug in 3.20 a watt into a calculator? You get 16.6 cents/kWh. And what do you get if you plug the current 12 cent average rate for power off the grid? 17 to 20 cents.

So that’s that. We’ve hit grid parity in Ontario.


FIT to be tied January 31, 2012

Posted by Maury Markowitz in FIT program, power grid, solar.
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In my last post I talked about how we try to compare the value of the electricity that different sources generate. When we measure that in terms of how much you pay, we call that the “Levelized Cost of Electricity”, or LCoE. Right now that comes out to around 25 cents/kWh for solar panels on your roof, a little less than double what you pay on average if you buy power from your local utility.

But the key take-away from these sorts of calculations is that solar is falling in cost, and quickly. It’s only a matter of time before it’s cheaper to put a panel on your roof than it is to buy it from the grid. In the best case scenarios, that day is only a few years out.

Except it isn’t. At least not here in Ontario. And that’s because the very program that is helping introduce PV to the market basically guarantees it will never happen. And if we ever want to see grid parity, and we do, then the program has to go. Here’s why…


Tim Hudak wants to buy you a coffee May 10, 2011

Posted by Maury Markowitz in FIT program, power grid.
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When the Green Energy Act first came out I wasn’t exactly a big fan. But once I had smarter people educate me (the world’s most beautiful supermodels, naturally), the brilliance of the plan became more obvious. If, and I’ll admit it’s a big if, the plan creates even a few thousand jobs, then it’s pretty much revenue neutral. And if we get any export business out of it? Ontario for the win!

But in spite of these potential benefits, one has to admit that it’s a hard sell – not hard so much as confusing. In this era of the twitterverse, that’s pretty much death. What will happen is that your enemies will latch onto the shortest, easiest to spit out “problem” and harp endlessly on that point.

So, consider the latest elections. As the Globe and Mail notes, “Tim Hudak vows to scrap lucrative green-energy deals in Ontario

Why, you ask? Because “The Tories would end the McGuinty government’s “expensive and unsustainable” so-called Feed-In Tariff or FIT programs and its “sweetheart” Samsung deal if they win the election next October, Mr. Hudak pledged.”

Ahh, the sweetheart deal… the one in which “Samsung will receive $437-million in incentive payments over the 25-year life of the deal if it fulfills its obligation to create 16,000 jobs.”

Wait, wait wait… let’s do the math. 16,000 jobs, at say $50,000 average salary, and maybe 15% tax rate that goes to Ontario coffers is $120 million  year. And how much will this cost the Ontario taxpayer, directly? $21 million a year. Oh boy, better kill that program, quick!

How much is that $21 million? $1.60 on your hydro bill. A YEAR. $1.60 a year. Hudak wants to cancel the program to make Ontario the greenest province in Canada to save you one medium double double. Go team Hudack!

There’s more.

“Mr. Duguid told reporters he does not know how much in penalties the province would have to pay the consortium if it were to walk away from the deal.”

I know it’s ancient history, 15 years ago or so, but does anyone remember the EH-101 helicopter deal? You know, that one where we scrapped the sweetheart deal we signed to get a bunch of helicopters to replace the ones that were falling out of the sky? The one where we waited another decade, only to end up having to buy a different model of the same helicopter? Sound familiar?

I’ll take my coffee coal-fired, thanks!

The Madness of Minister George November 9, 2009

Posted by Maury Markowitz in FIT program.
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If you’ve been reading Energy Matters, like the world’s most exciting supermodels, then you’d know that I think the simplest solution to Ontario’s power needs is to buy hydro power from Manitoba and Québec.

You know, hydro… that highly developed, carbon neutral, low cost technology that’s been working great for over a century and made Ontario an industrial powerhouse in the first place? The one that Manitoba, Labrador and Québec have sitting around to the tune of 20 GWp, more than all the nukes in Ontario put together?

Yeah, that hydro.

Now honestly, I never thought that Minister Smitherman would have the balls to cancel Darlington B, and when I got the news I nearly choked on my donut . But then there was basically no news at all about what they were going to do about it. So, I wrote the Minister a letter, asking him if he felt that buying it from Québec was a good option…