Jane and Robert Sachs opened their backyard to the South Dundas Chamber of Commerce, local politicians and the press on September 8th.
The Sachs hired Joey van Koppen, owner of We Can Contracting, to install a new solar unit in their backyard.
Sanyo, one option for solar panels, explains: “In Photovoltaics, the sun’s radiation energy is transformed into electric energy. This is accomplished by means of solar cells.”
“Photovoltaic systems have a power inverter or AC inverter. The inverter converts the direct current generated by the cells into alternating current, which can then be used for household purposes or to be fed into the public electricity grid.”
Robert Sachs, who has a wind turbine in the backyard as well as a solar hot water heater, explained: “we always wanted solar.”
He went on to say that the couple had been contemplating solar for quite some time, but hadn’t been enthusiastic about the roof unit options.
“What really sold me (on this Sovello unit) was that this is 60 per cent Canadian,” said Jane Sachs.
She went on to explain that solar power had been a dream of her father’s for quite some time. The Sachs’s solar unit is dedicated to Jane’s parents, Karl and Anna Gross.
The Ontario Power Authority’s (OPA) microFit Program is receiving a lot of credit for the increase in Solar PV systems.
From the OPA’s microFit Program Overview: “If you are a homeowner, farmer or small business owner, or if you manage an institution such as a school or place of worship, you have the opportunity to develop a very small or “micro” renewable electricity generation project – of 10 kilowatts or less in size – on your property.”
“You’ll be paid for all the electricity you produce through the microFit Program.”
Also, in the OPA’s overview document: “The microFit Program is a stream of OPA’s Feed-in-Tariff (FIT) Program for renewable energy in Ontario. It is intended to encourage the development of “microscale” renewable energy projects across the province.”
“Owners of these projects will be paid a fixed price for the electricity they produce.”
Sachs has a 20 year contract with OPA for the fixed amount of 64 cents per unit. The system is set up as a business, Jane’s Solar Farm, which comes with tax benefits.
Those who contracted for a system prior to July of last year receive 80 cents per unit regardless of whether they have a ground or a roof system. Today, roof units receive 80 cents per unit while ground units will receive 64 cents per unit.
The unit became operational July 27th and the Sachs received their first receipt from hydro last week for approximately $1,000.
In response to whether there is a wait before receiving the first receipt from hydro, Jane Sachs said, “It’s a matter of doing the paperwork properly.” She also credited van Koppen for his help with paperwork as well as with being an intermediary for the Sachs with hydro and the government.
According to Sachs, the payment system works one month behind – a receipt stating how much was earned will come at the end of a month and the direct deposit will come the following month.
The 10 kilowatt unit installed in the Sachs backyard, according to van Koppen, gives “the best return on investment for the size and cost of the unit.”
A unit similar to the one the Sachs had installed will cost approximately $75,000. According to Robert Sachs, the return on investment with a solar panel far outweighs any other investment options available.
The Sachs should see a return on their investment within approximately eight years.
For those considering installing solar panels on their house or property, it was pointed out that the contract between homeowner and hydro can be transferred to new owners and that the cost of the solar panel will be factored into the price of the house.
In terms of taxation, South Dundas Mayor Steven Byvelds confirmed that the property’s present designation will stay the same. For example, if it’s residential, it will stay residential.
Also of note, the cost of insurance for the unit “isn’t much” says Jane.
As for how the unit works, van Koppen informed visitors that “it tracks the sun.” The system has “sensors that tell it exactly where to be” and there are “two DC motors (that) power it.” The amount of power used is reported to be minute.
There are two hydro lines connected to the unit: one draws power and the other delivers power.
The Solar PV system at the Sachs house is made with German parts from Sovello, which were assembled in Toronto, Ontario.
Van Koppen uses Sovello because of its reputation for making quality products. He is working on his fifth installation and has four more customers in line. His focus for these systems is to “do more quality than quantity.”
Guests to the presentation included Jim Brownell as well as members of the South Dundas council.
Brownell who is no longer the “official” MPP for the area now that the writ has dropped and the election campaigns have begun, stated that he is “still very interested and very involved” in the happenings of the area. He insists that he won’t actually be retired until the appointment of a new MPP on October 6th.
In his speech he thanked the Sachs for the invitation, claiming that this was his “first time to get up close and personal to a solar panel.” He went on to comment about solar energy and expanding opportunities.
South Dundas Mayor Steven Byvelds expressed his gratitude at being invited to the event saying, “I’m here to learn along with everyone else.”
In addition to van Koppen, Atel Air of Williamsburg also installs Solar PV systems.
According to Jimmy Thom, Atel Air uses Sanyo panels. The company has installed approximately four units so far, one ground and three roof units.
The price of installations at Atel Air are comparable to that of We Can Contracting.
Thom admits that there is a “lot of bureaucracy to get a solar system up and running,” but Atel Air workers are there to do the “leg work” for customers.
In terms of popularity, Thom reveals that there seems to be a lot of hesitation on the part of consumers because of the government control involved.
However, for those willing to make the investment and accept whatever risk may be involved, there is the opportunity for great return on investment.
Both companies provide on-site consultations and recommendations. Atel Air offers financing options.
In terms of product? Sanyo offers 10 year warranty on materials and labour and a 20 year warranty on “constant productivity for the system.” Sovello offers a 5 year warranty on materials and labour and a 10 year warranty on the system’s productivity output.
As for Solar PV systems in South Dundas and Glengarry, Mayor Byvelds remarked that “it’s good to see new technology in the area.”