Business Development Officer
UV INDEX HIGH AT NOTO CONVENTION
t was confirmed for me at the recent NOTO convention that solar conversion is on the minds of many outfitters. At the conclusion of my presentation “Making Solar Work For You”, I was faced with the amount of questioning Barack Obama would encounter at a press conference on Health reform. Following my presentation and the Q and A session, I was met with a line-up of folks clamoring for solar literature with the same ferocity fans seek out autographs from Rockstars! Who knew solar was so sexy?? Well, truth be known, we did! As I continued to speak with the outfitters, the consistent theme was a willingness to convert to solar energy. However, the challenges they face are capital costs, payback time and funding.
When you take the time to research the facts, the popularity of solar (especially in northern Ontario) should come as no surprise. Let’s look at four of the main reasons to rationalize a switch to solar:
- Government Funding: There are currently two funding programs available for solar conversion. For off-grid camps, the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund (NOHFC) has come to the plate in a major way by offering a 50% rebate on your solar investment. For example, if your system were to cost $100,000, you would only have to pay $50,000. The new Ontario Feed In Tariff (FIT) program offers customers connecting a solar electric grid-tied system a twenty (20) year contract, paying $0.80 cents per kilowatt hour for 10kW (roof mount) and below sized solar electric systems and $0.71 cents/kWhr for 10kW (roof mount) and above systems. In addition, the application process has been simplified to expedite the turnaround time on approval and rebates. Both the NOHFC and the Ontario Power Authority want to see mass conversion to solar technology.
- Payback Time: In today’s market we are seeing payback periods as low as 3 years on a 10kW PV system.
- Leasing Programs: New leasing programs are available at Solar Solutions Inc. that enable you to eliminate any major capital expenditure that would limit your ability to invest in solar. No down payment and low seasonal payments are available on larger solar arrays over 10kW.
- Volatile fuel prices: In today’s economy, every dollar counts. Unpredictable fuel prices make it very difficult to budget expenses. Installing a solar PV system will allow you to fix your energy costs.
If these reasons have piqued your interest in solar power conversion, you should do the following:
Conduct an energy evaluation on your camp. Measure or record your energy loads to determine the size of your system (a certified solar consultant can help you with this).
Look to improve energy efficiencies in your camp. The lighter your loads, the less energy it requires to power them. This will allow you to down size your system and save you money. Some common efficiencies include; switching incandescent bulbs to LED and compact fluorescents, switching stand up freezers to chest freezers and converting water and sewage pumps to more efficient variable speed drive pumps. Most certified solar companies are available to conduct full energy audits with you.
Recently, we installed a 10 kW solar array in Northwestern Ontario (see photo). At the time of install, the customer was running a 15 kW generator to power the main lodge and 5 cabins.
The peak demand for the generator was 7.5kW and the generator was running 100% of the time. The annual fuel/freight costs to run this system was $30,000 per year. Now that the solar array has been installed, this customer should realize savings in the neighborhood of $24,000 per year. The payback on this system will be 3 years.
To conclude, there really is no better time to convert to solar. The cost has come down, the efficiencies are real and the rebate programs are exceptional. Contact a reputable solar company today to size up your camp.
Jarret and his business partner Tim Yusishen, President of Solar Solutions (NOTO Allied Member) can be contacted at (204) 981-7488
Taken from pages 16 & 17 of "The Outfitter", Winter 2009 Issue