Hydro grid unfit for microFIT

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One estimate says as many as five per cent of participants with conditional approvals have been placed on hold

photo: Don McCabe

solar_ground-639-12.jpg

Comments

We're considering solar generated power for our own use and hopefully/presumably get-off-the-grid. Where do I find information on this approach to confirm the appropriateness and the legality of it. My neighbour tells me that I must produce to the grid then buy it back with all its pricing encumbrances of debt retirement, taxes etc.

Based on the (micro)FIT conditions for a solar, wind or water project, I have to say you have to be outright dumb to fall for it and spend so much money upfront. In case of solar, they will even tell you where your equipment needs to be manufactured. Wow, really? And wind and water, 11c-13c per kw/h! Really? People who will use your power will of course effectively pay double that to hydro (base price, delivery, taxes, etc)...

It's all about public relations? Look like your for green energy generation, but don't really support it in the board rooms. There no problem in Europe thats for sure.

How dare the OPA except or approve one more contract until the constrained contracts are completed. New contracts are going up all around me, so if they ever let me move my contract the let location will probably be filled too!

I had an extension until Aug 23/2012 and they did not extend my project was terminated. I am very upset .I am waiting sins Feb 2010 to connect and I have a neighbor few hundreds meter away and got connected last Aug 2011. How is possible they terminated my project when is not my fault if is power constrain ?.I want to wait until the lines are updated. Any advise what I can do please?

Thank you

I had just one option to relocate? but I send OPA a letter in May /2012 together with the letter from Hydro( this is what they asked people to do who want to relocate) but I told them I don't want to give my project away after investing so much time in to and that I would like to wait as I heard the Hydro are updating the line and probably by Dec 2012 I should be able to connect.I don't know what other option I had? so much information maybe I missed something?. do you have any idea what I can do?.Thanks

There were 4 options to choose by may 31st. I believe an additional option was added on may 26 if you were unsure of which one fitted your particular situation just to keep you "in the loop". Relocation was one of the options. Am I understanding that you chose that option and now have had yours terminated? Anyone who did not pick by may 31st will probably be screwed. Also only the early microfit applicants under the 80 cent price were guaranteed hook up with the OPA contract and then it was changed that you needed and offer to connect along with an OPA contract due to the overwhelming response of the program. A big mess in general on part of OPA and hydro, they should be embarrassed.

I applied Feb 2010 and had 80 % price /kw and I could not connect.
I send my application before May 31/2012 with the letter from Hydro but I did not want to relocate I want to wait and I told them that. What to do ?. I wrote to my MP from my area to see if he can do something
.

Its all about who you are and how big.

You are right . Already I e-mail Hydro and OPA

Already I e-mailed Hydro asking them how it is possible that one of my neighbor got the approval to install his ground solar panels at Side Rd.25 which is approx. 1500 meter from where I am and where I would like to install my solar panel.(He is on Side Rd.25 and 6th line and I am on Side Rd.25 and 7 line ), they gave him the approval last Aug 2011,and I am still being told that my property is capacity constrained. He also installed another ground solar panel on another of his property on 5th line and Side Rd 25 and I can not even installed one.? Do you think this is fair?. Is it because he is a farmer and I am not?.

Nobody answer to me .

Comment modified by editor.

It is frustrating dealing with hydro companies when they do no give any information on where there may or may not be capacity. For instance their capacity calculator will say there is capacity but then when you put your form c in it is denied. Hydro needs to get their act together so we can stop wasting our time promoting systems in areas that don't have capacity to begin with.
Comment edited to remove advertisement

I have everything in place, OPO approval, cost quotes and everything, But non of the big banks I talked to BMO, TD, RBC, will finance the price or even 1/2 the $90000 cost of installation which includes guarantees for maintenance, replacement if damaged, upkeep and everything that you could get for a care free canned system.
Why they say they will not finance the complete system is they do not trust the income to be there from Ontario hydro and need to put a second mortgage on my home.
Some program when the banks do not trust it why should I?

Financing is available in reform of loans.

I am in the solar power industry and have been working with people across Ontario to help them install solar power systems that meet all the provincial guidelines.

I'm well aware of the grid connection problems that many people are facing and am frustrated by the issue and lack of information from the power companies. It affects the company I work for because if we can't provide systems I can't pay my installers or my salespeople.

As mentioned in an earlier posting the LDC needs information that describes the equipment and output of the system but Hydro One and the OPA advise people not to buy anything until they have approval to connect to the grid. How is a person supposed to complete the necessary paperwork without knowing the details of their system? Unfortunately the only way to do that is to buy a system.

My advice to anyone considering a solar power system is to check the company policy on refunds and deposits. Also check out the company on the BBB website for any complaints or if the company is registered.

I can only recommend one way to handle this problem and my company has been doing this since last year. We developed a money back guarantee and we only take a small deposit.

Dan Beresford
VP Solar Sales
Grasshopper Solar
866-310-1575 ext 153

I just received a phone call from Hydro One this morning. Much to my surprise they told me that they have done a more comprehensive capacity study and they now say they have the capacity to connect my project immediately.

Did anyone else receive this call or is this just in response to my complaint that I filed with the Ontario Energy Board?

Dave Fadden
Melbourne, Ontario
spareroom@execulink.com

Dave Fadden in Melbourne

Are you really surprised? You should be relieved. So what exactly did you say to the Ontario Energy Board? We would like to use the same words since we too have a system built and approved but were denied connection due to system restraints. OPA is saying that we need to have an offer to connect before we buy equipment, most of us who were given conditional contracts before Dec 8 were never told that, but apparently our LDC always maintained that. Too bad the OPA and the LDC don't spend time at the same dinner table comparing notes.
The OPA tells us to contact our LDC for answers, our contractor is trying to talk to Hydro one and they keep saying that the paper work is being processed. Maybe we are barking up the wrong tree?
We would like some advice on all this. By the way, our neighbour got connected on Feb 8. He submitted his form C in August along with a cheque to cover the fee. The cheque was cashed in October and not once did anyone from Hydro contact him with an offer to connect. The work was done while they were in Florida on vacation. I'll bet they were surprised too.

I'm still in shock. I was starting to make alternate arrangements for my equipment (off the grid) thinking it was going to be years before "improvements" were made to the transformer station in my area.

I can't say for sure that this sudden change has anything to do with my complaint. Apparently 13 people in my area have just been given offers to connect. Mike Mulhern from this site contacted Hydro One. He was told that there was capacity reserved on this transformer that was no longer needed and that freed up space to offer connections. What exactly that means or is it just BS? I have no idea. Apparently I have a letter in the mail from Hydro One in response to my complaint. It will be interesting to see what it says. According to the OEB once the LDC receives a complaint they are supposed to contact the complainant with a resolution.

As I mentioned in a previous comment here in the OEB DSC there is a section (6.2.6) that states a LDC must make an offer to connect or give reason why not within 15 days of receiving an application (Form C in Hydro Ones case). My complaint was that they failed to comply with that section and as a result of that failure to comply I now had equipment that I was paying for that was not connected. I was also facing Ontario Content issues because I didn't meet the December 31st deadline and my system is a roof mount, not a ground mount so I did not receive and extension until May 31st like the ground mounts.

So I have been pushing that the one and only reason that I did not get connected was because of Hydro One's failure to meet their end of the deal as per section 6.2.6 of the DSC. If they made me an offer to connect within 15 days they all would be great. If they had told me within 15 days that they couldn't connect me the also great (sort of) because I wouldn't have purchased any equipment.

Further to this I have recently learned the micrFIT and FIT project were supposed to be "capacity exempt" and it says so right on the OPA website in the December 8th posting. So how do you get denied a connection for capacity reasons when you're supposed to be exempt from that?

I had been in contact with a lawyer about my situation. He said the problem would be that Hydro One or OPA would just say you shouldn't have purchased any equipment until you have an offer to connect. There are lots of arguments against that but proving them would be the problem.

It sounds like your neighbour's situation is a little different. It sounds like he submitted his form C and received it back with an offer to connect. He then sent in his cheque and was waiting for the actual connection. I'm not sure why that would have taken so long. The DSC also covers that. It should be done within 5 days. I don't remember the exact wording on that. All they have to do once all the paperwork has been processed is come out and pop a meter in, nothing else.

I'm not sure if I've answered your question or not. If you'd like to contact me feel free to e-mail me at spareroom@execulink.com and I'll try and help you in anyway I can. I'll give you my phone number and you can call me. I honestly believe that everyone that received the message on Feb 10th from Hydro One needs to make a complaint to the OEB. If nothing else it will hopefully push them to make the required improvements sooner than later.

Dave

some areas of London Ontario are also experiencing the same 'system constraints'

Bob

I also had a project connection request denied but fortunately I had not yet committed to any contractors. (Funny thing though, there are questions in the connection request you could only answer if you had actually selected and committed to a system design). Regardless, I live on a major road and to date there are very few solar projects connected to the grid in my area. Therefore, I am very suspicious that now that green energy is loosing popularity our Government has found a way to backtrack on their commitments to the little guy. I am asking for proof of capacity issues in my area. And if I don’t receive it or there is insufficient proof of capacity issues, then I hope all of us who are being denied our projects, will seek legal action for breech of promise, etc.

I also live on a major road north of Guelph and have been denied a contract due to contrainsts from Hydo One.  I like your idea about breach of promise.  It seems Hydro One is the problem in the southern Ontario area and it is now March 2012 and they are still declining connections.

unfortunately many people have beem taken in by contractors who just want to make money selling and installing. Some of these so called reputable contractor flash the big dollars signs in youre face and have left the customer holding the bag. The one gentlemen was right please do youre home work this market is constantly changing with newer and better products constantly comming out almost every other month you cant afford not to. I work for one of these reputable companys and yes it is alot of work just to get things set up to tie into the grid but we pride are selves on doing it right. One of the best people to talk to prior to doing anything is an engineer. Dont take the salesmens word on products engineers if you know one are a vast amount of knowledge. I have sat down with two engineers and bent there ears for about 6 hours in total and have be reading everything I can find on line. The micro-fit program is a good Idea it makes clean green energy, it is helping the economy with jobs and yes it makes you money. But shop around look at everything warrantys , possible service agreements, insurance against this like the grid going down its only been what seven years since the last major black out. I am not only working in this feild I have my OPA approval number. If you any one has any questions fell dree to send me an email I will do my best to answer it andrew@firstserviceenergy.com

I have a microfit project that is connected to Hydro One. I did what the OPA said and in the order they advised. I had 4 quotes from reputable and knowledgeable contractors. To my knowledge and my contractors knowledge at no time before Dec 8 2010 was it necessary to have "an offer to connect" from the LDC. I think it is a good idea and needed for the future, but for these 1000 investors that can't be connected that is BS. Someone can correct me if I am wrong but as I understand it I produce electricity. I have 1 line to the transformer so the power comming in doesn't pass the power going out. I use what I need and the balance goes out or comes in. The parallel conection was required by Canada Weights and Measures so the amount sold and bought can be documented. If you have a farm operation and for that matter a power hungry lifestyle at your home I think it will take the electricity produced by the solar system and need even more from the grid. An exception to this is if a system is standing alone and feeds the grid 100%. Now,finally how are we going to get these investors connected because this is just a absolute obvious misunderstanding of how this electricity is being distributed. It is an excuse and smokescreen for some other reason and the OPA and Hydro One need to make this right. It is an election year so these 1000 investors need to get us all ralleyed and just like when we had our 30 day consultation period we need to stick together because who knows what else they may want to change in the future. The contracts are 20 years to live with so lets all stay on top of what is going on.

"To my knowledge and my contractors knowledge at no time before Dec 8 2010 was it necessary to have an offer to connect from the LDC."

You are completely wrong. That requirement was in place since the beginning of the program. It was in big bold print on all the OPA documentation.

The offer to connect from the LDC a new rule as of Feb 9 2011. There wasn't anything in big bold print when I applied in Feb 2010. There were 3 steps. 1: apply and receive a conditional offer, 2: build and connect your project, 3:accept your contract. When I applied there was an area you needed to check which released your info to the LDC so the OPA could use information to make a decision to give you a offer or not. This is part of why the OPA had a goal time of 30 days before an offer was given or not. I did call my LDC before constuction to check on the order of the future paperwork requirements and as soon as they heard I had a conditional offer they verbally said I was good to go and gave me my order of required paperwork. This is what I experienced and why I made my comments. I still think that if these 1000 investors had their conditional offers with the old rules then they should be connected to the grid since the OPA was responsible for ensuring this; or there should not have been offers given out.

Assuming all 20,000-ish microfit applications were approved immediately for connection, the peak generation capacity of these systems would be 200 MW, or 0.1% of total demand on grid. See IESO web page for instantaneous electricity demand in Ontario. Subtract Ottawa and GTA, and that is what, 1%? Consider that solar only provides peak electricity, and most of the day it is less than 1/2 output.

I would say that "technical" (grid issues) is spelled "s-t-r-a-t-e-g-i-c" in this case.

Microfit investors that have been rejected, but have projects built should atleast be allowed to connect immediately to offset their own demand until "technical" issues can be resolved. Solar inverters can be programmed by mfr to be governed at partial power output that would never exceed customer's base load. This would allow consumers to atleast cover loan payments in interim.

Parallel metering was another "technical" Hydro requirement that has totally countered the benefits of solar power, not to mention make it more expensive.

Kudos to prov govt for stepping out on a long plank to implement GEA, but it is clear in Ontario there are large competing political interests at play here.

Good luck to all.

OPA posted a notice on their website on November 8th about if you had your ESA authorization to connect prior to December 1st you would be given an extension on your 2010 Ontario Content.

How many people received e-mail notification about that posting? I know I didn't and by the time I found out about it, it was too late. I know I was signed up for notifications because I got all the ones to do with the price change for the ground mounts but not this one.

Was it just me or did others not get this one?

You can e-mail me if you'd like

Thanks,

Dave Fadden
spareroom@execulink.com

On the upside, public/political pressure will probably eventually force Hydro One to connect these disputed PV systems to the grid. This may take a while, which is costly for the applicants, but they should have followed the rules. But I doubt that they will lose their entire investment.

Dave in Melbourne:

OPA was crystal clear from beginning:

"Applicants who incur costs related to their proposed project without an Offer to Connect in their possession INCUR THOSE COSTS AT THEIR OWN RISK."

That's a direct quote from the microFIT application documentation. You skipped a mandatory step in the approval process. You proceeded to build your PV before you received a connection offer from Hydro One. You took an unwise risk. No sympathy here.

I agree with you. Hydro One and OPA have definitely changed the wording on their forms and websites without telling anyone.

Dave in Melbourne

How many people are aware of this?

Connection of Micro-Generation Facilities
6.2.5 A distributor shall require a person that applies for the connection of a microembedded
generation facility to the distributor’s distribution system to provide,
upon making the application, the following information:
a. the name-plate rated capacity of each unit of the proposed generation
facility and the total name-plate rated capacity of the proposed generation
facility at the connection point;
b. the fuel type of the proposed generation facility;
c. the type of technology to be used; and
d. the location of the proposed generation facility including address and
account number with the distributor where available.
6.2.6 Where the proposed micro-embedded generation facility is located at an
existing customer connection, the distributor shall, within 15 days of receiving
the application, make an offer to connect or provide reasons for refusing to
connect the proposed generation facility. Where the proposed micro-embedded
generation facility will be located other than at an existing customer connection,
the distributor shall, within 60 days of receiving the application, make an offer to
connect or provide reasons for refusing to connect the proposed generation
facility. In either case, the distributor shall give the applicant at least 30 days to
accept the offer to connect and the distributor shall not revoke the offer to
Distribution System Code
69
connect until this time period has expired. The distributor shall not charge for
the preparation of the offer to connect.
6.2.7 The distributor shall connect the applicant’s micro-embedded generation facility
to its distribution system within 5 days of the applicant informing the distributor
that it has received all necessary approvals, providing the distributor with a copy
of the authorization to connect from the ESA, entering into a Connection
Agreement in the form set out in Appendix E and paying the distributor for the
connection costs, including costs for any necessary new or modified metering.

Hydro One has failed to comply with this code and people have been effected by it. In my case if Hydro One had notified me within 15 days that they were not able to connect me to the grid then I wouldn't have spent any money. The whole program has been flawed from the start. The OPA has put very prohibitive deadlines on people with regards to the Ontario Content requirements. If you did not have your system connected prior to December 31st then you have to meet the 60% Ontario Content which would increase the price of a system substantially, if you could find components. As of January 1st there were very few Ontario Assembled panels and inverters available. Many are not going to be available until after March. Guess when my conditional offer with the OPA expires...you guessed it. March 31st. So yes "step 3" was missed by many people but what choice did they have if they wanted to meet the various deadlines?

For those who have been effected you need to contact the Ontario Energy Board and file an official complaint about Hydro One failing to comply with section 6.2.6 of the DSC.

Dave Fadden
Melbourne, Ontario

There is some serious misinformation circulation about this issue. Following is a summary of the microFIT process that has been in place since the beginning of the program:

1. Apply to the OPA microFIT program.
2. Wait for a conditional offer.
3. Upon receipt of a conditional offer, apply to Hydro One for a connection.
4. Wait for a connection offer from Hydro One.
5. Start the solar project only after receiving a connection offer from Hydro One.

You will find that every applicant who has been denied access to the grid skipped steps 3 and 4, despite clear warnings. They wrongly took the initial OPA conditional offer as a final offer. It is a painful, costly mistake for which they are solely responsible.

I agree that the process needs to be followed, but to complete the Hydro One "Form C" application (step 3), you need to have information pertaining to the inverter that is going to be used.

How can you fill out this application to Hydro One if you do not already have the equipment that is going to be used?

One of my tax clients religiously followed all of the steps noted above, and last December got a notice from Hydro One stating that they had the capability to buy only half of what he had approval to build.

He decided to not proceed at all, and as of now, the only expense he can't recover is what he spent on engineering fees to see if his existing building would support a solar installation - we should be able to deduct these engineering fees as a farm expense somehow, we're certainly going to try.

Neither he, nor I, feel much, if any, sympathy for those people who didn't exercise the due diligence needed, especially for an investment of this magnitude, and of this uniqueness.

Stephen Thompson, Clinton ON

This is all just infighting between the Ontario government and Hydro One. These areas that are having the problems could and should have been addressed when the conditional offers went out.
In most cases if not all these microfits actually help an aging grid. The only difference that will be made if one 10 kw system was in an area of lets say 10 farms would be 10 kw of power WON"T have to be delivered to that area. Almost certainly the power generated by a 10 kw system wouldn't even make it to the first transformer station especially considering the generated power hits its peak in the day time when demand is higher. Less power into an area, the less to be handled by the feed into it. I think somebody has some explaining to do and they will as this goes on.
The previous issue with ground mounted systems still doesn't make any sense to me. Ground mount or roof mount there is no real difference if they are fixed and can't follow the sun. So why lower the rates for ground mounts. So if you could put a tracked system on a roof, that is OK? Using their logic it would make sense if you could get $1.50 per kw mounting your panels on the north side of your building instead of doing it the smart way. Considering we are dealing with highly paid engineers and consultants that know what they are doing what is their motivation for these disruptions? The only thing I can think of is the utility is trying to show who is boss. I would think that is easy to figure that out. It is the one who pays the bills and holds the mortgage. The various utilities gave that title away when they mismanaged things and got in debt.
Rick Guthrie
Temiskaming Independent Energy

If these projects had been net metred in the first place, as the original proposals suggested there would not be a problem. Farmers would be saving money on thier hydro bills right now and paying off the solar panels faster. Instead the government tried to slip some sweetheart deals through for big business and we are all paying the price in higher costs, lost opportunities and uncertainty.

You know it all didn't have to be this way either. I remember Robertson (can't think of his first name) from the NFU on CKNX warning that this kind of thing was coming a year or two ago and we all ignored it. Wished I would have listened better.

The solar companies that sold these systems to their customers should be held accountable! When most people purchase a solar system from a solar power company they are purchasing a "Turn KEY project". It is the job of that solar power company to get the necessary approvals for their customers to connect to the grid.
Obviously the companies that sold these systems were not protecting their customers or looking out for their best interest - only the interest of their profits! These people should have never been sold systems before they had approvals to connect!

A professional, reputable solar power company will give you your deposit back (less costs incurred) if you are unable to connect your project to the grid. (And they will put that in writing) A professional, reputable company will not require a LARGE down payment until all of the approvals have been received and the system is actually ordered!

These people did not do their due diligence when purchasing their solar system and were taken advantage of- maybe not on purpose- maybe just through the ignorance of the companies they chose to deal with. There are hundreds of solar companies out there right now. Most will not be in business even a year from now. The professional companies that have the proper financing, intellectual resources, and engineering staff required to run a multi-million dollar business will be the ones who are around to guarantee your system well into the future. Where will the guy in the pickup truck who is selling systems out of his garage be two, three or five years from now?

A successfully completed microFIT project is an excellent investment. Just make sure that the company you choose is reputable, professional, and is always looking out for your best interest.

-Solar Chris

While I feel bad for those folks who had preliminary MicroFit agreements with Hydro One, and went ahead and built and installed solar systems, I am selfishly happy that a bunch of solar systems may not be able to be hooked up to the grid. Our hydro bill increased by about 20% over last year. That is a substantial increase, with more increases to occur over the next few years. "Hydro One is going to put $$$ towards the issue to solve the problem". Who is going to pay for that? Us. So we get to pay MORE to pay MORE.
Clean up Nanticoke. Yes, it is coal fired and the dirtiest. It is the dirtiest, because it is the BIGGEST. 2 or 3 smaller coal fired power plants combined are just as dirty. Technology is available to clean up any coal fired power plant. We get much of the smog and so on coming up the Ohio Valley from the USA anyway - are we going to demand they shut their coal powered plants down too?
All the present government is doing is chasing business out of the province.
Frankly I cannot wait until election time. It should be one of the most enjoyable elections in a long time. Wind turbines, solar, HST, e-Health, the list is endless.... Bring it on:)

After going to and through GTA Toronto this past week end I would say it is time to separate GTA move Queens Park and inject some common Sense into Goverment

Just ridiculous! Just when it seemed like Ontario was doing something positive towards our environment. The MicroFIT issue needs to be addressed immediately and cleared up in favour of all who have put their money and faith into the program.

Proves once and for all that McGuinty whitewashed the whole green energy policy to try and create jobs. A massive amount of paid labour went towards the production of solar panels, wind turbines, the engineering and installation of the equipment.

Farmers paid a high price for job creation.

As long as these projects aren't connected, I don't have to pay the high prices they receive for the power. Then again they expect us (the hydro customers) to update the grid to recieve that power. This sounds like a "double whammy" to me. This entire project was doommed from the start.

Put the powers to be pensions in trust not to be recoverable unless no economic hardship hits ontario citizens because of this policy with legislation. No body is accountable, anything to bring accountablity back

Were are the checks and balances?

Let us face facts Ontario is the heart of Canada manufacturing. High electricity rates will force manufacturing out to cheaper sources say China, india korea or USA . Ontariofarm producers in general, livestock cant not afford 40% increase in electric cost neither can farmers using crop driers.
Gosh help consumers when we see the dust settle and time give us the true finding on electricity cost say in 5 years. The only problem will be we will not be able to reward the politicans who caused this new wave of energy.

One has to wonder if the bibles book of revolations is in play.

Can't believe these projects are now on hold. This was to be a key part of job growth in Ontario. What a black eye for hydro one. Let's give this the priority it deserves. What a mess!!!!

Our company has over 223 MicroFIT Conditional Offers which we applied for last March and received approval. We had submitted our request for a Connection at various times from September through November, each and every week we called Hydro One and have been assured that there was no problem with Capacity only that they were short on Staffing to complete the paperwork.

I also know of another company that has over 1,100 Approved Conditional Offers as well. WHY is the Minster reporting that only 1,000 applications are effected when in fact with just two companies I know we have 1,323 contracts that have been cancelled.

I would appreciate knowing how many others have been effected so that we can get a true number of the impact. As well, we employ 25 skilled trades which will be seriously effected by this announcement. Not big numbers but they are real numbers - Ontario workers just banging out a buck for their families.

Thanks

John Millson
Great Lakes Energy Inc.

My contract is on hold. How many others have you found "on Hold"? My work number is

Comment modified by editors

Hydro grid unfit for microFIT
This should never have been allowed to happen with Registered Province of Ontario Professional Engineers, who screwed up? Was it politicans, civil servants or professional engineers

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