Solar company sues Ontario Power Authority for $9 million

BentleyDonovan Vincent, The Star
An Ottawa company that participated in a provincial program helping homeowners and farmers develop renewable energy projects is suing the Ontario Power Authority for $9 million, claiming it lost hundreds of customers and was forced to lay off all its employees after the OPA retroactively reduced fees paid out under the plan.

The claim, which the province disputes, relates to the government’s microFIT program, an ongoing initiative introduced by Ontario’s Energy Ministry in 2009. The program was launched to encourage homeowners, farmers, small businesses and institutions to produce small renewable energy projects.
These owners are paid for the electricity they produce, and the prices are set to enable them to recover their costs and earn a “reasonable return” over a 20-year period.

According to court documents, Capital Solar Power Corp. says it expended “vast sums of money” and time recruiting participants for the program, and in September 2011 saw about 275 of them apply for microFIT. Read article

Northern Ontario town sees ambitious green energy plans fall apart

00001_550_412Roy MacGregor, The Globe and Mail
Perhaps Neil Young could put on a benefit concert. Blind River, after all, is where the famous Canadian rock star blew the transmission out of “Mort,” his 1948 Buick Roadmaster hearse back in the Sixties. That experience inspired Long May You Run – the haunting song Mr. Young performed at the closing ceremonies for the Vancouver Winter Games.

The singer is also an environmental activist, all for the same green energy that has put this pretty little Northern Ontario community in a situation that has its 3,549 citizens wondering how their $18-million ended up in a garbage dump more than 600 kilometres out of town.

It is a story that begins, as so many such tales do, as something that seemed like a good idea at the time…

In 2010, encouraged by a provincial initiative to encourage green energy, Blind River arranged to borrow $49.5-million from Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation. CMHC was offering low-interest loans for infrastructure projects as part of the federal government’s Economic Action Plan. The town already had its own small hydro dam and a wind turbine. This loan would allow Blind River to build a massive solar farm that would create jobs – much needed in the area – and give its people low-cost, renewable and clean energy. All very admirable. Read article

One solar panel can’t connect to grid, but over 100 wind turbines can…

CTV News
It was a $100,000 investment in a greener future, but four-years after Rita Van Geffen invested her retirement savings into a ground mount solar panel, she’s only now seeing a return and not the kind she was looking for.

In April 2010, Van Geffen invested in a solar panel, which has yet to be connected to the grid. “It’s doing absolutely nothing. I can’t get it connected,” she says. “I believed in green energy and I thought it was a good return on my money.” Read article

CTV solar

Guess what: There are no soil studies on Severn solar ‘farms’

Persistent Severn mayor was ‘misled’ by province, enlists county support in quest for transparency

By Kate Harries AWARE News Network
Severn Mayor Mike Burkett has got some upper-tier backing for his campaign to ensure that solar projects don’t take place on agricultural land. Simcoe County Council voted yesterday to have staff prepare a report on public access to site-specific soil studies required to establish renewable energy projects.

But council went further, instructing Warden Cal Patterson to send a letter to Environment Miniser requesting that the Green Energy Act be amended to provide for local decision-making authority regarding solar power and wind energy projects. The reason for the stepped-up demand: fancy footwork by provincial officials to conceal the fact that proper oversight was not exercised. Continue reading

Another green energy firm closes in Windsor

CBC News
Siliken Renewable Energies closed its solar panel production facility Friday in Windsor. The company made the announcement almost one year to the day after it opened and on the very day it was revealed the city still has Canada’s highest unemployment rate.

“It’s disappointing news for this community,” Ontario Finance Minister Dwight Duncan said Friday while in Windsor. Duncan compared the solar panel industry to the arrival of the auto industry, when there were several auto manufacturers fighting to enter the market.

“The strong competitive ones survived. Unfortunately Siliken couldn’t make a go of it,” Duncan said. “Market conditions have been bad for solar around the world.” Read article

Living beside a MASSIVE Solar Plant in Ontario

Sarnia Photovoltaic Power Plant near Sarnia, Ontario in Canada, is as of September 2010 the world’s largest photovoltaic plant with an installed capacity of 80 MW.  The plant covers 950 acres (380 ha) and contains about 966,000 square metres (96.6 ha), which is about 1.3 million thin film panels

New group formed in Scugog to fight huge solar complex

The Purple Hill Preservation Alliance has been formed by concerned residents to protect the integrity of the environment in which we live. Purple Hill is located in the Oak Ridges Moraine & Ontario Greenbelt, south east of the town of Port Perry in the Township of Scugog, Durham Region. Our most imminent threat is the proposed solar industrial complex by SkyPower Ltd. under the name of Illumination LP. Construction of the industrial complex is due to commence in the spring of 2013.

Solar, backers both got burned

by Peter Hodson, Financial Post
Excerpt: There are many lessons to be learned here:
1. Just because something feels good (being green) doesn’t mean you will make any money from it.
2. When there is euphoria on any sector, use extreme caution. Most investors, given the chance of losing 93% for the chance to make 100%, would likely do nothing instead. That’s a great policy when faced with a euphoric sector. Continue reading

Residential solar farms face growing opposition

By Monica Wolfson, Windsor Star
Despite growing opposition to ground-mounted solar projects in residential neighbourhoods, the province has yet to act on pleas to intervene. County council and municipalities across the province have asked the province for a moratorium on ground-mounted solar farm development in residential subdivisions. A new cabinet was sworn in Thursday with Chris Bentley as the new minister of energy. Continue reading

McGuinty’s “Solyndra II” poster child starving for work

by John Ivison, National Post
OTTAWA — The solar energy company touted this week by Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty as a flagship of the province’s clean energy economy has halted production because of slow demand.

Mr. McGuinty was flanked by Eclipsall Energy Corp.’s workforce when he visited its Scarborough solar panel plant Tuesday, but there was no mention that the production line is temporarily shut down. When my colleague Tamsin McMahon visited the plant she found the reception desk was empty, the cafeteria was closed and only a handful of employees milling around inside the sparsely furnished building.  Read article

Bad policy begets necessary bailout costing us all – Ontario gives stranded solar projects a lifeline

by Renata D’Aliesio, Globe and Mail
 Ontarians with stranded solar projects who have been worried about losing their investments because they can’t get a connection to the power grid are being offered a lifeline by the province. After months of talks between the government, the Ontario Power Authority and Hydro One, Energy Minister Brad Duguid directed the power authority on Friday to offer a resolution to an estimated 1,500 micro-solar projects that were conditionally approved in areas of the province where capacity is already constrained.  Read article

Weed-Covered, Neglected Solar Park: 20 Acres, $11 Million, Only One And Half Years Old!

Full Story:  NoTricksZone
Continue reading

Hydro One swamped with solar proposals

by John Spears Toronto Star
Steve Taylor and his father Wray have close to $250,000 worth of solar power panels sitting in a field near Strathroy that can’t be connected to the electric grid. Now Hydro One, pleading that it is swamped with solar proposals, says it needs even more time to get the projects processed and connected.

The delay is affecting 5,200 mostly rural residents who have applied under Ontario’s MicroFIT program to build small-scale renewable power projects. Hydro One has asked the Ontario Energy Board to give it up to six months to process the solar projects.  Read article

The reality of green energy

Tom Adams Comments on Ontario’s FIT Contracts Announced Feb. 24/2011

Tom Adams Energy

The Ontario government announced here that it has entered into 40 new Feed-In Tariff contracts to procure another 872 MW of renewable power, primarily from wind and solar generators.

The generators know that McGuinty’s green energy days are numbered. The generators are racing to get their contracts in place before the government changes its mind again. Continue reading

Solar dilemma shows short sightedness on province’s part

Liberal MPP, Pat Hoy

By Bruce Corcoran, Chatham Daily News

Our province’s electricity grid is such a mess that at least one provincial politician is blaming, well, his government’s own Crown corporation, Hydro One. The same politician, whose party cut hydro rates last November by 10 per cent, says his government isn’t increasing hydro bills fast enough to pay for updating the hydro grid.

All this has many who were bold enough to leap towards solar energy generation very worried.  The finger-pointing politician is none other than our own MPP, Pat Hoy. Continue reading

Solar fades as shale gas flares

by Peter Foster, Financial Post

China reportedly has some two-thirds of the US$39-billion global market for solar panels, but it doesn’t use them very much. Why? Because they’re uneconomic.

The Chinese subsidize their manufacturers to take advantage of the ultra-expensive alternative energy forced on western consumers via feed-in tariffs. Smart for them, dumb for us, but since everybody is subsidizing renewables, it’s hard to condemn the Chinese. Indeed, the terms “solar panels” and “free trade” don’t belong in the same conceptual time zone, even if they are reportedly an issue at this week’s meetings in Washington between U.S. President Barack Obama and Chinese President Hu Jintao. Continue reading

Solar farm casting shadow over Elmsley

Ron Holman, Mayor

Several residents in the area where the Elmsley project is under construction have developed problems with e-coli, chloroform and sediment in their water, according to CTV News. It is believed by some that the drilling of 14,000 support beam holes for the 168,000 panels has caused the water quality issues.

Rideau Lakes Mayor Ron Holman is succinct in summing up how he feels about the municipality’s plight in a developing water quality issue that may be related to the massive Elmsley solar panel installation project in the area of Bay Road and Highway 15. Continue reading

Farmland being lost to industrial solar zones

By Marg Bruineman, Barry Examiner

Bernard Pope looks at a farm field pushing up corn and shakes his head.

“Now tell me that isn’t good farm land,” he says with disdain. “All that property is going to be solar.  The land next to it just had grain taken off it.” Continue reading

Your Hydro Bill

Copy and Paste Letter to Duncan and Duguid

Solar farm no fit project

The story in The Tribune regarding Welland’s outgoing mayor celebrating the prospect of a Chinese manufacturing plant being brought into Welland is yet another example of why of all people, politicians should have absolutely no part in making business decisions.

The FIT programme was introduced by the provincial government to support their Green Energy Act, as the only way to encourage ‘investment’ in their badly planned alternative energy industries before the government itself had ever bothered to investigate whether solar, and its ‘partner’ wind, actually met any energy supply requirements or made any long term economic sense. Continue reading

The solar robber barons

Spain’s move to subsidize solar proved utterly unsustainable
by Peter Foster   Financial Post
Some foreign — and even domestic — solar equipment manufacturers are complaining that Ontario’s buy-local policies will cost investment and jobs. It takes some gall to criticize dumb and damaging initiatives when your existence depends on them. Continue reading

Ontario backpedals once again on solar program

By ANTONELLA ARTUSO, Queen’s Park Bureau Chief  
Toronto Sun

Solar-powered anger has fueled a change in the price being offered to ground-mounted operators.

The owners of eligible projects who applied before July 2, 2010, will get the original price offer of 80.2¢ per kilowatt-hour. Continue reading

Greenpeace, Pembina Institute and World Wildlife Fund living in Disneyland

The report calls for wind to contribute about 7 terawatt hours, or triple the current output. But wind power has to be balanced by other forms of generation that can quickly be ramped up or down to offset the variations in wind.

That offsetting generation is generally provided by fossil fuels such as natural gas or coal (which Ontario plans to eliminate by 2014.)

The report doesn’t address of what forms of energy might be needed to balance variable sources of energy, especially wind.

John Spears,  Business Reporter   Toronto Star

The “renewable is doable” coalition, which includes Greenpeace, the Pembina Institute and the World Wildlife Fund, are to release a report Tuesday calling for Ontario to boost its targets for renewable energy. Continue reading

Beware of renewable energy windfalls

The virtue of solar power alone cannot justify government guarantees of outrageous rates of return. And due diligence ought to be as important for green energy entrepreneurs as any other investors. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Globe and Mail

The prospect of a 24-per-cent return on investment should elicit attention. The prospect of such a rate guaranteed by government for 20 years should set off alarm bells. Continue reading

Solar burning up tax dollars

 By Matthew R. Ford, Windsor Star

Last year, Dwight Duncan was in Tecumseh to make an announcement regarding placing expensive taxpayer-subsidized solar panels on a government building.

Impressionable schoolchildren were brought in for the photo-op at which time Dwight Duncan said that people want to question the financial feasibility of projects like this but we have to do them no matter what the cost.

He labelled us as naysayers to be dismissed, and Duncan proudly cut the ribbon and kissed the closest available baby. Fast-forward to the news from his own Liberal Energy Minister Brad Duguid that they were cutting the generous taxpayer subsidy to solar and we now have a totally different outcome for solar projects in Ontario. Continue reading

Liberals’ “make it up as you go along” strategy threatens rural seats

See also:  Financial Post – Ontario Solar Program in Disarray

Robert Benzie Queen’s Park Bureau Chief, Toronto Star 

Premier Dalton McGuinty is taking heat over a drastic cut in the subsidy for farmers who generate solar power, which some Liberals fear could cause an eclipse of the party’s rural seats.

Government insiders warn as many as a dozen Liberal seats could be in play due to what is shaping up as an urban-rural schism—and that could mean the difference between winning and losing the October 2011 election.

At issue is a policy change quietly announced last Friday, in the middle of an extended Canada Day long weekend, when the Ontario Power Authority (OPA) disclosed that a program for small producers of solar electricity had “vastly surpassed expectations” with 16,000 applicants, so the rate being paid would have to be slashed. Continue reading

Exorbitant rate of return – onslaught of applications


CBC News

The provincial government says it can’t afford to pay the current rate to homeowners with small, ground-mounted solar power systems who sell power back to the grid.

The Ontario Power Authority has proposed dropping the rate to 58.8 cents per kilowatt-hour from the current 80.2 cents.

Ontario Energy Minister Brad Duguid said keeping the current rate would cost taxpayers more than $1 billion over the next 20 years.

“There was an exorbitant rate of return on this and it brought on an onslaught of applications because there was huge money to be made,” he said. Continue reading

How does this game work?

Click picture for clearer view

From a reader:   I picked this up in the Globe & Mail today and was trying to make sense out of it but am having difficulty.  Continue reading

Crops ousted for Samsung solar farm

Information meeting scheduled for July 8, 2010 from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Cayuga Kinsman Community Centre

This untendered contract, for $7 billion, had no public review, no consultation with the locals, or with the people who will ultimately be footing the bill- the Ontario taxpayers.   Haldimand Norfolk MPP Toby Barrett states that there are, “tremendous subsidies going to Samsung consortium.”

By Alice Guthrie  Caledonia Sachem

First, there was a phone call, advising that his lease was being terminated, and that a letter would soon be delivered by courier. This letter confirmed the call, and a subsequent meeting assured him that he could still take the 2010 crop from the land, after which he would need to vacate, as there was a need to explore solar and/or wind energy generation in the area.

A second phone call and letter followed, advising him of a change in plans. He would need to vacate in 30 days. Continue reading