Ontario produce operations get into electricity business

06/09/2011 10:43:00 AM
Dan Gailbraith

For two years, the provincial government in Ontario has urged businesses to switch to renewable energy.

The Green Energy Act and Feed-in Tariff/Micro-FIT program, enacted in May 2009, is designed to induce those businesses to purchase and install solar energy panels and/or wind turbines with the aim of selling electricity sell to the province’s power grid.

The goal of the act is to develop a “feed-in-tariff system to provide guaranteed prices for renewable energy projects, with a related focus on helping companies, farmers, co-ops and other groups navigate the approvals process.”

The goal is create green jobs and wean the province from coal-fired power.

About 20,000 of Ontario’s 60,000 growers already have signed up for the program, in which they would receive a payback for each kilowatt they generate, said Mark Wales, owner of Mark Wales Farm Fresh Produce, Guelph, Ontario.

Wales said he has signed up.

“I’m waiting for my solar panels to get up now,” he said. “I was able to get the application in a year ago. To encourage more green energy production and the manufacturing of all that equipment here in Ontario, we get a premium price if we put up panels or wind towers and you sell all that electricity produced into the grid, so they’re actually shutting down the coal power. That’s the primary goal.”

Wales’ company doesn’t use any of the power it generates, he said.

“All of it goes into the grid, and I get paid 80.2 cents per kilowatt hour,” he said. “A 10kw project should sell about $12,000 per year, and it’s a 20-year project. The payback is about eight years. The last 12 years is all clear.”

Eric Chanyi, operations manager of Shabatura Produce in Windham Centre, Ontario, also is getting involved in the program.

“We’re in the midst of applying for a bunch of solar panels on all our facilities,” Chanyi said. “We’ll sell the energy back. It’s not set up yet, but we have all our paperwork in. We’re just kind of waiting to see what company we’ll be working with.”

He said the company will receive 71 cents per kilowatt hour.

“We’re actually purchasing at 9 cents a kilowatt,” he said. “I know people that are making enough money to pay it off in seven years. After that, it’s all money in your pocket.”

The company is planning to install about 300 solar panels, Chanyi said.

Peter Jennen, owner of Jennen Family Farm Market in Thamesville, Ontario, said he has been selling power from a solar panel back to the grid for about a year.

“There’s a payback — it’s working out pretty well,” he said.



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