frequently asked questions

Not everyone is an expert on renewable energy; luckily, we are! In our years of experience there are certain questions and comments we come across time and time again. You may find some of the answers to these questions enlightening.

Q: “I heard that the government cancelled the microFIT program where they buy solar generated electricity back from the homeowner. Is that true?”

A: This is probably the biggest misconception that we hear. Unfortunately the promotion and public relations for the microFIT and FIT programs has been lacking to say the least. In fact, there procurement target for 2014 was not even met (the program was very underscribed). The procurement target for 2015 will be 50MW … that represents 5000 10kW microFITs!

Q: “Has the government reduced the amount that they pay for solar generated electricity to the point where it is no longer worth the investment?”

A: This question is very common and represents another misconception. The OPA has reduced the amount being paid for solar generated electricity (reduced the tariff on 3 different occasions, in fact), however the cost of installing solar has plummeted over the past 5 years. These price reductions were expected and built into the design of the program; it would not make sense to still pay 80.2 cents per kWh when the cost of installing a system is less than half of what it was 5 years ago.

Q: “Does Flanagan and Sun Inc. install microFIT systems?”

A: Absolutely! Flanagan and Sun Inc. has installed many microFIT systems in the Peterborough and Kawartha Lakes region (and beyond) with many, many satisfied customers making thousands of dolllars per year from their investment.

Q: “What is the Return on Investment (ROI) for a microFIT system?”

A: The ROI will depend on a number of factors such as the type of roof supporting the solar array, the complexity of the layour (dormers, chimney, vents, etc. can create challenges), which utility is involved, and so on. In general, though, most installations have an 8% to 12% annual ROI for 20 years.

Q: “How much money can I make from a microFIT system?”

A: For a south facing roof with minimal shading issues, you can expect to make over $4200 annually from a 10kW system (the largest allowable under the microFIT program).

Q: “I’m tired of paying my local distribution company every month and want to go off-grid. Is this feasible?”

A: Feasible – yes. Practical – no. If you’re already hooked up to the grid, it doesn’t make economic sense to ‘un-hook’ from the grid and power your home or business using renewable energy. We are aware that energy prices are rising, and we have seen the cost of photovoltaic panels and other components drop considerably over the last few years. Still, it would take several decades before what you would pay for a complete renewable energy system would equal what you would pay your local distribution company during that time for delivered energy.

If, however, you have a cottage or land that is not yet serviced by hydro, then a renewable energy system may make sense for you. It can be quite expensive to bring in power to remote areas and the cost of a renewable energy system in this circumstance can be relatively inexpensive. If you find yourself in this situation, please contact us for further consultation.

Q: “Does Flanagan and Sun Inc. install wind turbines?”

A: Yes, Flanagan and Sun Inc. has installed a number of small scale wind turbines. However, small scale wind turbines are really only appropriate (economically feasible) for off-grid installations. Even at that, the best bang for your buck will be solar. If you find that you have maxed out your solar and would still like to reduce the amount of time that a fossil fuel generator has to run, then a wind turbine may be appropriate.

Q: “I would like to install solar panels to offset my heating costs. Is this something that Flanagan and Sun Inc can do?”

A: Yes, we work with solar thermal systems, but, like wind turbines and going off-grid, solar thermal installations for space heating are generally not a great investment. The reason is that when you need heat is exactly when there is almost no sun. The economics really do not justify solar thermal installations for space heating. You would be far better off to install a microFIT system and use the money you make from that installation to pay for upgrading the insulation and weatherstripping for your home. If you already have a microFIT system installed, the next best thing would be to install a Net Metered system to offset electrical energy consumption.