Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is the Feed-In Tariff (FIT)?
2. How can API ensure to meet the Ontario Government’s domestic content requirements?
3. Where can I find the FIT Rules?
4. If my roof shingles need replacing, how easy is it to do with the solar equipment attached?
5. How do you attach the solar panels? Does it require that you make holes in my roof? If so, will it leak?
6. If I sell my property, what effect does PV have on the sale price?
7. Will I be taxed on the revenue received from the microFIT / FIT programs?
8. Does a residential home earn the same amount of return as a commercial unit?
9. Does the Electrical Safety Authority (ESA) need to do an inspection?
10. When is a good time to install a solar energy system at my home?
11. Is there an alternative option if my roof isn’t suitable for a rooftop system?
12. How do I know what size of a system to purchase?
13. Does solar power work for commercial buildings?
14. Is there a limitation on the solar pv system size that can be installed on agricultural land?
15. What is Class 4 Agricultural Land?
16. Is there an alternative if you can’t use your roof?
17. How long will the system last?
18. Do these systems require a lot of maintenance?
19. What happens if the panels are shaded?
20. How much roof space is required to install a 3 kW (DC) PV system on my roof?
21. Are panels recyclable?
22. What is the Return on Investment (ROI) or “payback period” for solar installations?
23. Can I install the system myself?
Feed-in Tariff Program
What is the Feed-In Tariff (FIT)?
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 (10 kilowatts or less in size) on your property. Under the microFIT Program, you will be paid a guaranteed price for all the electricity your project produces for at least 20 years. The microFIT program is currently offering a contract price of 80.2 cents/kWh for solar PV systems. The microFIT program is a stream of the OPA’s Feed-In Tariff (FIT) program for renewable energy in Ontario.
The microFIT Opportunity
Not only will the new FIT program benefit the environment, create jobs and boost Ontario’s economy, but it will offer Ontario homeowners and small commercial businesses a great investment opportunity through the microFIT program.
How can API ensure to meet the Ontario Government’s domestic content requirements?
Alternate Power International carries a range of Ontario made racking systems for different pitch of roofs including flat–roofs.
Where can I find the FIT Rules?
The FIT rules are located on the Ontario Power Authority’s website. The Green Energy Act (GEA) has received Royal Assent but has not been proclaimed.
Residential Solar PV
If my roof shingles need replacing, how easy is it to do with the solar equipment attached?
In some cases home owners may consider having their roofing shingles replaced before having the solar installed (in the event, for instance, that the shingles are reaching the end of their life expectancy). The replacement of roofing shingles is a service we can also provide, and would be quoted separately. If the roofing shingles are relatively new, this is not a concern. Solar panels actually extend the lifespan of your roofing shingles (because the sun is what ages the shingles, and the panels are covering a portion of the roof).
How do you attach the solar panels? Does it require that you make holes in my roof? If so, will it leak?
The racking system for your solar panels needs to be secured to your roof. No holes are made in the roof, but fasteners are installed to secure the racking system, then covered with a flange, and sealed with roofing sealant to insure that no leaks occur. Installation of solar panels is no more invasive than installing a satellite dish or weather vane.
If I sell my property, what effect does PV have on the sale price?
Energy conservation and renewable generation adds value to a home. Solar energy can be one of the best home improvement investments you make. The microFIT contract is transferable to the new homeowners. It can also be a great bargaining tool when negotiating your selling price.
Does a residential home earn the same amount of return as a commercial unit?
No. The Ontario Power Authority has developed a streamlined approach to small renewable energy projects under the umbrella of the Feed-in Tariff (FIT) Program. The microFIT program will pay home and small business owners up to $0.80 per kilowatt-hour of electricity produced by a solar electric system. The Ontario Power Authority will enter into a 20-year contract at this rate with persons who install up to a 10-kilowatt solar electric system. On the other hand, the FIT Program is a simpler way to contract for generation, due to standardized Program rules and standardized contracts, including a standardized price.
In the context of the proposed Green Energy Act (GEA), a FIT Program will be used to procure renewable energy supply going forward. This means commercial developers of renewable energy supply projects will receive a FIT contract if they meet all requirements in the FIT Program Rules.
Generally, a Feed-in-Tariff has a number of key attributes:
- Open to various renewable energy supply technologies
- Transmission and distribution-connected projects
- Prices adjusted by technology and project size
- Prices are designed to cover total project cost and provide a reasonable rate of return over a long-term contract (generally about 20 years)
- Promotes community and Aboriginal projects
- Meets renewable energy growth with proactive transmission and distribution expansion
- Streamlines environmental and municipal approvals.
Will I be taxed on the revenue received from the microFIT / FIT programs?
Yes, you will be taxed just like any other personal income you receive. Since you're entering into a contract with the OPA, the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) will unofficially classify you as a business. You don't have to register as a business, nor will you be required to collect GST from the OPA unless you are already registered as a business. Being considered as a business will have an advantage for you; the CRA will allow you to deduct the full cost of the system against the income received using an Accellerated Capital Cost Allowance (ACCA) deduction. We advise all our clients to first discuss the tax implications with their accountant or tax specialist.
Does the Electrical Safety Authority (ESA) need to do an inspection?
All new wiring or wiring alterations to your home, including the installation of solar PV, require an inspection by the Electrical Safety Authority. This inspection is also a requirement for connecting to your local utility grid (as an Embedded Generation Facility). Contact us to learn more.
When is a good time to install a solar energy system at my home?
It is wise to consider installing a solar energy system when you are preparing a new build, undertaking renovations, energy efficiency upgrades, or after you have repaired or re-shingled your roof. It is important to consider roof warranties when installing additional equipment on your roof.Contact us to learn more.
Is there an alternative option if my roof isn’t suitable for a rooftop system?
Yes, PV ground mounted systems can be used for an average home system.
How do I know what size of a system to purchase?
According to the FIT program, residential PV systems maximize their system up to 10 kW (<=10 kW are microFIT, >10 kW are FIT). Typical residential systems are between 1 - 3 kW (5 - 15 panels) capacity, although larger photovoltaic systems are possible. Factors affecting the sizing of the system will include: household consumption (if off-grid), roof space and financial considerations. A site visit will help an installer to size and quote on an appropriately sized system. Contact us to learn more.
Commercial Solar PV
Does solar power work for commercial buildings?
Solar PV systems can be installed on office buildings, retail buildings, schools, and government facilities. Anywhere electricity is used, solar electricity can be used.
Agricultural Solar PV
Is there a limitation on the solar pv system size that can be installed on agricultural land?
Yes there is. Only up to 100kW systems can be install on class 1 to 3 agricultural lands.
What is Class 4 Agricultural Land?
If the land is not feasible to make improvements that would enable mechanized row cropping, then the land may be considered as less than "prime" (CLI class 4 or 5).
General Solar PV Questions
Is there an alternative if you can’t use your roof?
Yes, PV ground mounted systems can be used. API carries Ontario made ground mount racking systems for different made of solar modules or types of soil. We also carry tracker systems which generate more income than the “fixed” ground mount system.
You may download the financial analysis of a Agricultural 10kW Solar PV System mounted on a Tracker System. Please note that the dollar values shown on the Financial Analysis is for you guide only. The dollar values presented may vary depending on your financial situation.
How long will the system last?
Most solar panel manufacturers will have a 25-year power warranty. This is longer than almost anything else you can buy. The rest of the system has a 5-year warranty in most areas. Inverters can have warranties up to 10 years or more.
Do these systems require a lot of maintenance?
PV panels require little to no maintenance. Like any external device, be sure to work out a maintenance schedule to do your due-diligence (schedule the same time of the year you check your fire detector batteries, for example).
What happens if the panels are shaded?
PV panels should be installed in areas where they get significant shade-free sun every day. Even small amounts of shade can significantly reduce the output. Our designs and installations also seek to minimize the impact of any shade issues through selection of the proper equipment and good engineering.
How much roof space is required to install a 3 kW (DC) PV system on my roof?
Approximately 65 to 75 square feet per kW mounted on a sloped roof. More space is needed on a flat roof. Contact us to learn more.
For more information, follow this link on planning Solar PV System installation for Home and Business.
Are panels recyclable?
Although there is no formal recycling program in place for panels, parts of panels may be recycled separately where programs exist.
What is the Return on Investment (ROI) or "payback period" for solar installations?
When considering full cost accounting, the true payback is the environmental benefit, such as peak load offsets that you can only achieve with solar technologies. Financial payback is a relative concept to be calculated on a case-by-case basis. Some of the factors that affect payback are: the cost of electricity prices being offset, cost of the system, exposure to the sun, size of the system, financing terms, etc. There are some tools, such as RetScreen that can assist homeowners in predicting the production of a system and assist in determining payback. Contact us to learn more.
You may download the financial analysis of a Residential 10kW Solar PV System. Please note that the dollar values shown on the Financial Analysis is for your guide only. The dollar values presented may vary depending on your financial situation.
Can I install the system myself?
Only experienced solar electric system technicians or licensed electricians should install solar systems.