Pros and cons of Green Energy Act

May 5, 2012 by  
Filed under Green Energy News

By – JIM MERRIAM

Posted 14 hours ago

A solar panel project at a school in Kincardine illustrates the upside about green energy initiatives and the downside about the province’s Green Energy Act.

First the upside. Students at St. Anthony’s elementary school are seeing that solar energy can be used to create electricity and that there is money to be earned by doing so.

Some of the school’s students told the Bruce Grey Catholic District School Board recently they view the panels as one way in which they make a contribution in the battle against global warming.

Students have set up a website that tracks the activities of the solar panels minute by minute and records how much the school is earning in real time.

The project has helped to make the students more aware of the environment and the need to reduce the size of our footprint in this corner of the world.

In the school, students from kindergarten on up are seeing the value of solar energy.

Now for the downside. And it’s about economics; economics that might not matter so much in a school project here and there, but economics that have a detrimental effect on the province and industries trying to do business in Ontario.

The solar panels on the school are earning about $36 a day. If that rate is consistent over a year, the income will be $13,140.

And that’s at the much inflated but guaranteed rate of 80 cents per kilowatt that the school will be paid. Power is being sold in Ontario at a much lower rate, although it is difficult to determine an average.

Hydro One’s own website lists a number of rates under headings designed to confuse a Philadelphia lawyer.

Headings include: Medium Density (formerly high density); Low Density (formerly normal density), etc.

Being very generous and using a high rate of say 11 cents means a loss to taxpayers of 69 cents for every kilowatt produced by solar energy.

We all know this gap will close in the coming years as Ontario consumers are hit with major rate increases.

Even considering that future, the project does not add up.

It took a provincial grant of $200,000 plus an extra $30,000 from the school board to get the panels mounted and in production.

Kindergarten students from the school will be graduating university before there is any payback on the initial investment.

Without even counting details such as interest, maintenance, life of the panels, etc., at today’s numbers it will take the school 17.5 years to pay back taxpayers.

So it’s a nice, feel good project. It just doesn’t add up.

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