Canadian Contractor


There never was a “truckload of government subsidies” for residential solar, solar veteran says

Solar Dad has been in the residential solar business in Ontario for 40 years. He says solar electricity in Ontario is dying because our electricity is still too cheap to make solar cost-effective.

Response to John Bleasby’s post back in January about how bad the payoff is for installing your own solar PV panels in Ontario…

John, I have to take exception to your hyperbole: “the rooftop PV array solar industry has been slip-streaming behind a truckload of government subsidies for a decade, either installation grants or over-the-top power purchase agreements.”

There has never ever been any “truckload of government subsidies” for residential solar systems in Ontario. I know because I’ve been in the business for 40 years.

First, Ontario is the only province to have offered a significant program – for 8 years – for roof top PV until Alberta started one late last year. Ontario’s program provided NO SUBSIDIES OR GRANTS – buyers paid ALL of the capital costs and taxes. They did get to sell the solar electricity generated back to Ontario Hydro for a very high rate the first year of the program. That rate was reduced for subsequent installations as the cost of solar systems declined, every year until the program ended last year.

Residential solar PV systems make up a fraction of the total amount of PV that was installed. The majority was installed for commercial and industrial projects hundreds to thousands of times larger. Also note that the FIT program include industrial-sized wind generators that were paid much less per Kilowatt hour. The total installed generation capacity of wind generators is also several times larger than the solar capacity installed.

Despite all of the monies spent and promised for wind and solar, the costs of this power have had very little effect upon the actual cost of electricity in the province – contrary to all of the HYPE shouted out there. The rising costs are due to the need to modernize a failing transmission network, to fix failing nuclear reactors, and to pay private generators – using nuclear and the new natural gas generators – a guaranteed amount for the power they CAN generate – not just for what they actually deliver to the electrical grid!

Solar electricity in Ontario is dying because our electricity is still too cheap to make it cost effective. Solar thermal (heating) in Ontario is dying because natural gas has become cheaper than it was ten years ago – and shows no prospect of rising in cost any time soon. People in Ontario are dying because the environment is deteriorating because people don’t want to spend any money to help change/save the future. Let someone else do it!


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