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CONTACT US - The Solar Energy Experts

It benefits you, it benefits the environment, and it builds a sustainable future. Renewable energy is in the news. Global warming, rising energy bills, and energy dependence affect all of us. More and more people want to become part of the solution. Solar energy is one of the best ways to make a real contribution to sustainability. The Government of Ontario now offers a great incentive program that makes solar the smart choice – financially as well as environmentally.
But solar is still new for a lot of people. To change that, we’re offering some answers to questions we’ve often heard in our many conversations with clients and with people in the industry.
We hope that by answering these frequently asked questions, we can encourage more people to go solar.

Solar Basics (Read more)
What is solar energy?
What is a kilowatt (kW)? Kilowatt hour (kWh)?
What is solar photovoltaic (PV)

Solar Technology and the Environment (Read more)
Does Ontario get enough solar radiation?
How will snow affect my panels?
Can wind cause problems?
Are solar panels impact resistant?
Can solar panels be recycled?
What is the lifespan of a solar panel?

The FIT/MicroFIT Program (Read more)
What does a feed-in-tariff (FIT) stand for?
What is the scope of the OPA FIT program?
How is it beneficial for the government to purchase my solar power at a price that is much higher than I currently pay for electricity?
Who can take advantage of the FIT/microFIT program?
What is the difference between the microFIT and FIT programs?
When do I receive a contract?
Can I sell my house while under a FIT/microFIT contract?
How am I getting paid for the power I generate?
What will happen when the contract expires?
Are multiple properties under one ownership eligible to receive multiple contracts?
Where can I read about Ontario's Green Energy Act?
How do I know that the next provincial government will not terminate the FIT/microFIT program?
Can the OPA alter the price per kWh offered under the FIT/microFIT program?

Solar Installations (Read more)
What is the optimum location for roof mounted solar panels?
Is a building permit required?
Will solar panels affect the roof of my house?
How are panels mounted on the roof?
Can I install a PV system myself?
Do I need to buy insurance for my solar installation?
What other options do I have if the roof is not suitable for solar panels?

Commercial Rooftop Leasing (Read more)
What are the advantages and benefits of leasing my building rooftop to ROMBRO Solar?
How much roof space is required for a lease contract?
What if I need to repair or replace my roof?
What happens if I sell the building?
Can I keep the solar panels at the end of the lease contract?
As the building owner, what are my responsibilities toward the solar panels?

Cost vs. Return on Investment (Read more)
How much does a solar power system cost?
Will my property taxes increase for having solar panels installed?
Will the solar power system increase my property value?
Does a microFIT/FIT program participant earn income for income tax purposes?
Is a microFIT/FIT participant allowed to deduct expenses against the income earned under the contract?
Can a microFIT/FIT participant deduct any costs associated with the purchase and installation of the renewable energy project?

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SOlar Energy Expert Installers FAQ

Solar Basics
What is solar energy?
A solar energy system creates usable power from sunshine. There are two basic kinds of systems: Photovoltaic or PV solar uses sunlight to generate electricity. It’s the same technology found on pocket calculators, just on a larger scale. PV systems can be designed to generate the majority of the electricity used in your home, or just a portion of it. Thermal solar uses sunlight to heat water. Typically this is used for a home’s hot-water supply. A well-designed thermal system can be extremely effective, and provide most of the hot water used in your home.

What is a kilowatt (kW)? Kilowatt hour (kWh)?

This equation refers to a unit of energy. A W (watt) refers to a unit of power while a K (kilo) is 1000 x that unit. A kWh is simply referring to the number of kilowatt’s generated in one hour. For example a 100 Watt light left on for 10 hours would consume 1kWh, that is, 100 Watts x 10 hours = 1,000 Watt hours = 1kWh.

What is solar photovoltaic (PV)?
Solar photovoltaic cells involve some of the most exciting new technology available. These cells take the sun’s direct rays, the most readily available renewable source, and turn them into energy. When a photon of light hits the silicon on your solar panel, electrical energy is released in the form of an electron. These electrons are then manipulated to result in an electrical charge. It’s a much more efficient process than solar thermal energy, because converting heat energy to electricity is quite complex.

Does solar work only on sunny days?
Solar systems work even when it’s cloudy. Naturally, cloud cover reduces the amount of solar radiation reaching the panels, but the system will produce some electricity and/or heat on all but the most overcast days.

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SOlar Energy Expert Installers FAQ

Solar Technology and the Environment
Does Ontario get enough solar radiation?
Yes, in fact Ontario has more annual hours of solar radiation than Germany and Tokyo, which are both leaders in the solar energy field. Here are some interesting facts about solar power in Ontario:
• Panels can generate more energy on cold sunny days than hot sunny days, as they become less effective in hotter temperatures.
• The Ontario Power Authority (OPA) reports that Ontario ranks higher for solar potential than Florida or Texas.
• Two studies conducted by the Queen’s University Applied Sustainability Research Group in Kingston, Ontario found that solar power in southeastern Ontario has the potential to produce almost the same amount of power as all nuclear reactors in the United States.

How will snow affect my panels?
Most of the snow that accumulates on your panels will melt off as soon as the sun starts to shine. Panels are often around 16 degrees Celsius hotter than the outdoor temperature. The added benefit is that the panels will remain squeaky clean in the process.

Can wind cause problems?
No, windy weather conditions are taken into consideration with the design of the solar panels. They are tested to withstand wind gusts in excess of 100 km/hr.
Are solar panels impact resistant?
Yes, the surface layer is made of tempered glass, which is tested to withstand impact from 1 inch hail at terminal velocity.

Can solar panels be recycled?
Yes, programs exist to recycle your solar power system.

What is the lifespan of a solar panel?
Solar panels are built to last. Many of the first solar panels created in the 1950’s are still functioning and generating energy. After 20 years of operation and past the expiry of your microFIT contract, your solar panels should still be running at about 80% of their original efficiency. Proper care, such as making sure that the panels aren’t covered in dirt or leaves, will ensure a long lifespan for your solar power system. On average, they will be producing electricity for 30-40 years, before they need replaced.

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SOlar Energy Expert Installers FAQ

The FIT/MicroFIT Program
What does a feed-in-tariff (FIT) stand for?
A feed-in-tariff (FIT) is a commitment by a government or utility to purchase electricity generated by renewable energy sources at a fixed price, guaranteed over a number of years. For example, the Ontario Power Authority’s (OPA) MicroFIT program offers up to 39.6¢ /kWh for rooftop solar power systems, guaranteed for twenty years. It encourages renewable energy generation, diversifies energy sources, strengthens energy independence, and boosts the green economy. Read more.

What is the scope of the OPA FIT program?
The FIT program, involving solar projects over 10 kW, is designed to encourage the use of renewable energy among large buildings, farms, businesses and any other locations where it may have otherwise been overlooked. Factors which may have originally hindered development, such as costs, will be turned into a profit as the program provides a significant return on investment, and allows for the contract participant to pay back the system as well as achieve monetary gain. The overall goals of FIT include:
• Phase out coal-fired electricity by Ontario generation by 2014
• Increase economic activity and the development of renewable energy technologies
• Create over 50,000 green jobs
• Turn Ontario into a world leader for renewable energy

How is it beneficial for the government to purchase my solar power at a price that is much higher than I currently pay for electricity?
There are several reasons why this is beneficial to our government:
a) The price we currently pay is not the real cost of electricity (or even the average). The government currently subsidizes the price you pay for electricity.
b) Solar installations produce power at peak times (example: sunny mid summer days), when they already pay a premium to import additional electricity from other provinces or from the United States.
c) We are projected to be short the energy required over the next 10 years due to population growth and the aging infrastructure. The short term cost to build new plants would be substantial.
d) Solar moves power generation to the local community level rather than one large plant in a central area (i.e. decentralization of the grid)
e) Green economy job creation. With the loss of manufacturing in recent years, the government is using this program as a way to stimulate large investment in green energy manufacturing in the province. This is accomplished by having a required Ontario manufactured component to each solar PV project of 40% (60%+ as of January 2011). This encourages renewable energy companies to build manufacturing plants here in Ontario and create jobs for its citizens.

Who can take advantage of the FIT/MicroFIT program?
The FIT/microFIT Program is available to solar power projects of most sizes in Ontario. Additions to existing facilities (incremental projects) may be eligible, but please contact us for details.

What is the difference between the MicroFIT and FIT programs?
The primary difference between the two programs is the size of the solar power system. MicroFIT projects are 10 kW or less whereas FIT are 10 kW or greater, and a maximum size may apply for certain systems

When do I receive a contract?
ROMBRO Solar will apply for your FIT/MicroFIT contract on your behalf while developing your solar power project. It will be offered to you once the application has been approved by the OPA.

Can I sell my house while under a FIT/MicroFIT contract?
There are several options when selling your home:
a) You may transfer your FIT/MicroFIT contract to the home buyer, who will then own the system, the contract and receive payments for the electricity the system generates.
b) You may cancel your FIT/microFIT contract, and move and re-install your solar panels at another location. You would then apply for a new FIT/microFIT contracts.

How am I getting paid for the power I generate?
You will be paid by directly by your current Local Distribution Company (LDC) for all electricity generated by your solar power system, corresponding with your existing hydro billing cycle dates.

What will happen when the contract expires?
Solar panels are built to last. Despite the fact that the contract will end after twenty years, your panels will continue producing energy for years beyond that expiration. Your options at that time depend on the situation in Ontario. Options may include continuing to sell the electricity to the grid, or connecting the system to your home so you can directly use the electricity it generates to and save hundreds if not thousands on your energy bill.

Are multiple properties under one ownership eligible to receive multiple contracts?
Yes, owners of multiple properties can obtain several FIT or MicroFIT contracts.

Where can I read more about the financial incentive programs offered by the provincial government?
The most comprehensive source of information about the current incentive programs can be found on the Ontario Power Authority website: http://fit.powerauthority.on.ca/

Where can I read about Ontario's Green Energy Act?
A summary has been made available by the Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure. You can read it here. For additional information visit the following website: http://www.greenenergyact.ca/

How do I know that the next provincial government will not terminate the FIT/microFIT program?
The agreement with the FIT/microFIT program is a contract and is protected by contract law. No government can simply circumvent the contract once you are approved and receive your contract. The new government by law must continue with the existing contract, but they can change or cancel the program from taking any new applications. You are protected once you have the approval and conditional offer.

Can the OPA change the price per kWh offered under the FIT/MicroFIT program?
Once you have received your FIT/MicroFIT Conditional Offer, as long as you connect your solar installation to the grid within 1 year of the approval date, the OPA cannot change the rate that was offered at the time of your approval, or modify the 20 year term.

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SOlar Energy Expert Installers FAQ

Solar Installations
What is the optimum location for roof mounted solar panels?
The optimum location is a generally south-facing roof in good condition, free of any shadows from trees or other obstructions during the sunniest portion of the day in both summer and winter. Roof objects such as dormers, chimneys and skylights may reduce the size of system that can be installed. ROMBRO Solar will execute a feasibility study to determine where on your property is the most optimum location for your system.

Is a building permit required?
Yes, a building permit is required if your solar array occupies an area larger than 4 square meters.

Will solar panels affect the roof of my house?
Despite many buyers’ concerns, solar panels actually work to protect your roofing material from damage, therefore increasing its longevity.

How are panels mounted on the roof?
We do make holes when mounting a flush roof mount system and in some flat roof scenarios. However, flashing is applied and carefully sealed to prevent any leakage.

Can I install a PV system myself?
Yes. However, to ensure safety and proper installation, it is recommended that the work is performed by certified and experienced contractors. Any new wiring in your home, including the addition of solar panels, need to pass an inspection by the Electrical Safety Authority, which we arrange.

Do I need to buy insurance for my solar installation?
It is possible that your insurance company will require additional coverage for a solar power project on your property. We can help you contact your provider to assess if this is applicable. We also work with insurance companies that offer packages specifically tailored to this kind of product.

What other options do I have if the roof is not suitable for solar panels?
If your roof is not suitable, we can work with you to find an appropriate ground mounted system. We install fixed, single-axis and dual-axis tracker systems.

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SOlar Energy Expert Installers FAQ

Roof Top Leasing
What are the advantages and benefits of leasing my building rooftop to ROMBRO Solar?
ROMBRO Solar will install and operate a solar PV system on your rooftop, allowing you to enjoy all the environmental and corporate benefits of a solar PV installation such as reducing greenhouse gases and projecting an environmentally responsible image without any of the financial investments necessary to install your own system. You will receive annual lease payments for your roof. We install, own and maintain the solar plant for the contract period of 20 years.

How much roof space is required for a lease contract?
The ideal rooftop size is 20,000 square feet or larger.

What if I need to repair or replace my roof?

Any necessary repairs or replacements should ideally be carried out before the installation of the solar panels. If the roof needs to be repaired during the contract period, there is the option for the installer to remove the panels for the duration of the work, and re-install them afterward.

What happens if I sell the building?
The lease contract will be transferred to the new owners. Having a PV installation in your roof that is a steady income source will be a significant asset to your property’s value.

Can I keep the solar panels at the end of the lease contract?
At the end of the 20 year lease contract, you have the option to have the panels removed or to purchase them from ROMBRO Solar.

As the building owner, what are my responsibilities toward the solar panels?
None. ROMBRO Solar will apply for the permits, complete the paperwork, install the panels and take care of any necessary maintenance. Your sole responsibility will be to provide access to your roof for installation and maintenance purposes.

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Costs and Return on Investment (ROI)
How much does a solar power system cost?
The cost varies depending on the type and size of the project. On average it varies between $6 -10 per Watt DC installed.

Will my property taxes increase for having solar panels installed?
Currently, solar panels do not influence property tax.

Will the solar power system increase my property value?
A well designed and efficient solar power system, in conjunction with the FIT/MicroFIT contract, will certainly increase your property’s market value. When it comes to resale, property owners often discover they can sell at a premium. As well, the cost of your system can be depreciated to zero in order to reduce the amount of taxes you are paying for your solar income.

Does a MicroFIT/FIT program participant earn income for income tax purposes?
Yes. The amounts earned by a participant under a contract are considered income from a source that is either business or property.

Is a MicroFIT/FIT participant allowed to deduct expenses against the income earned under the contract?
A MicroFIT/FIT participant may deduct any reasonable expenses incurred to earn business or property income. For example, a homeowner who installs a solar PV system on the roof of his or her residence may deduct any incremental increases to property taxes and insurance resulting from the installation of the solar PV system.

Can a MicroFIT/FIT participant deduct any costs associated with the purchase and installation of the renewable energy project?
Generally, costs associated with the purchase and installation of renewable energy projects are considered as capital costs of depreciable property, which are deducted over a period of several years, based on a prescribed percentage. This deduction is referred to as capital cost allowance (CCA). The amounts paid for legal, engineering, installation, and other fees that relate to the acquisition of the renewable energy property would be included as part of the capital cost of the property.

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