We all remember the Microfit solar contracts that paid 80¢/kWh, and the commercial contracts that paid out 72¢/kWh. The contract prices on both programs have come down significantly since then (to between 20.7 and 31.1 ¢/kWh), and will reportedly be winding down at the end of 2017. However, the program fell under criticism for its part in skyrocketing energy prices. Fortunately, there is an alternative method for using solar energy that won’t break the bank – or drive up energy prices for your neighbors: Net-metering.
Net-metering is a method of generating electricity that has been around for decades. A house, business, or farm can generate its own electricity from a renewable source. The building will use the electricity first, and if there is extra it will flow out onto the electrical grid through the meter, creating an electricity credit that can be used later on as shown in this diagram. In fact, if the system is sized correctly, the building may ‘net’ to zero electrical consumption over the year, and the only bills paid to the utility would be for monthly connection, and some grid storage fees.
Historically, the cost of installing solar has been so high that the payback on something like this would be 20 years or more, but due to the recent decrease in the cost of solar, as well as the significant (and ongoing) increase in the cost of electricity, the payback on a net-metered solar array is 8-9 years.
You might think the government would be moving to limit a program as attractive as this, but the program is mandated by O.Reg 541/05 at a provincial level, and the province is in the final stages of opening up the program to allow more systems to connect.
Imagine the peace of mind you’ll have, knowing that further increases in electrical rates don’t affect you because you’re generating your own electricity from the sun.