In just over a month, on July 1st to be exact, we (my wife, the bank and I) will be celebrating three challenging yet glorious years of home ownership. Since moving in, we’ve painted every single room in the house, save for the bathroom, which we’re planning to renovate this summer. We’ve also had electrical outlets and light switches replaced, installed energy efficient potlights and crown moulding, built a new privacy fence (thanks to a car crashing through our old one), planted our own vegetable garden and the list goes on. Like so many others, we also have an ever-growing list of essential and frivolous projects we’ll never totally get through. On that note, we have often considered whether or not it makes sense for us to install solar panels on our roof, but it’s not cheap, and we’re wary about the return on our investment. Nevertheless, over the past year more and more Kingstonians have been embracing solar.
While researching local companies who install solar panels, I came across Switch’s 1,000 Solar Rooftops Challenge. In partnership with the City of Kingston and the Ontario Community Go Green Fund, Switch’s goal is to make the Limestone City the first community of its size to reach 1,000 solar installations by the end of 2011. That’s definitely a lofty goal, especially when you consider the fact that there are only 127 participants thus far, consisting of 57 solar domestic hot water systems, 49 solar electric systems (photovoltaics) and 21 others projects. Although Kingston may not get all the way to 1,000 installations by the end of the 2011, we’ve got other big solar projects and solar panel manufacturers setting up shop here, which are good signs that we’re diversifying beyond our neighbouring wind farm.
Delving further into the residential application and the 1,000 solar rooftop challenge, Switch outlines the highlights of the microFIT program as follows:
- Ontario Power will buy the electricity your solar panels produce for 80.2 cents per kilowatt hour
- The microFIT contract lasts for 20 years
- There is a streamlined application and approval process
- Solar electric systems cost in the range of $7,000-$10,000 per kW
- You can expect a 4 – 9% return after tax for 20 years
- Solar panels usually have a 20+ year warranty
- You can use depreciation to reduce your taxable income from the panels
- If you take out a loan to pay for the panels, the interest payments are tax deductible
- The contract can be transferred if you sell your home
While you may not be convinced that solar is right for your property or pocket book, there are other ways to invest in solar. Recently I’ve noticed numerous real estate listings that temp buyers with solar arrays, and properties that are open to installation, on the roofs of car washes, restaurants, apartment buildings, residential homes, and even vacant land outside of the city. As someone who isn’t quite ready to pay to have photovoltaics installed on my roof, if there’s an interested buyer out there who wants to rent the top of my sun-drenched home, I would gladly entertain offers to lease my unused roof space.
What are your thoughts on Kingston’s future as a solar producing city? Are you willing to take the plunge, or are you already harnessing the power of solar energy? Tell us about it!
Thanks to earthworm for today’s photo.