Powerhouse Solar

Solar Tracker News

Rationale for New Ground-Mount FIT Price Category

Released recently on the OPA website

Released July 14th, 2010

Finally, the OPA has released their information on which they based their proposed change to the pricing structure for the ground mounted solar tracking systems. Comments from our President Neil Nicholson were sent to the OPA: "Your ROI for typical tracking ground mount is shown at 23% when it is actually 15% ($13,300 / $90,000 * 100% = 14.8%). You have not factored in any costs into this calculation which you indicate you use in determining FIT rates. You have only shown installed cost not total costs! Since you are comparing ground-mount to roof mount, where are the rooftop numbers? Please correct your calculations and resubmit your news release."

Please make your opinions heard and tell the OPA if you agree with their math.

OPA NEWS ANNOUCEMENT (text copied from OPA web site)

Link to OPA News Release - please visit for full details

Thousands of Ontarians are taking part in brand new and unique program by becoming renewable electricity generators in their backyards, on their roofs and around their farms while earning a reasonable rate of return over the life of the contract. We are fixing a glitch in the program that was highlighted because of the unexpected popularity of ground-mounted solar projects. We are now creating a separate price category for ground-mounted solar to ensure the program remains sustainable and electricity ratepayers - Ontario families - receive good value for new renewable energy.

FIT rates for all project types are set to cover costs plus provide a reasonable rate of return to the developer which is roughly an 11% return on investment over the 20 years of the FIT contract.

In setting FIT rates, OPA took into account typical project capital costs, operating and maintenance costs, financing costs, and expected electricity production over the life of the project. A 70/30 debt/equity split was assumed and debt borrowing costs were assumed at 7%.

Projects can come in many different configurations. Project costs and capacity factor - that is the amount of energy a project produces - are BOTH key elements in determining a project's rate of return.

Upfront capital costs of ground-mount projects depend on whether they are on tracking or non-tracking systems. Higher revenues offset the higher project costs and mean the lower rate of 58.8 cents/kWh provides ground-mount developers with a comparable return on investment that rooftop generators receive at 80.2 cents/kWh.

Ground-mounted projects with tracking systems (panels that turn to follow the sun) have higher upfront capital costs but produce more energy (higher capacity factor) and therefore generate more revenue. At 58.8 cents/KWh, the higher revenue offsets the higher capital costs and results in a rate of return on investment that is comparable to rooftop solar projects as well as other FIT projects.

Ground-mounted projects without tracking systems have lower capital costs but also generate less energy and therefore less revenue. In this case, the lower upfront cost offsets the lower revenue, still enabling a reasonable rate of return from the same 58.8 cent FIT rate. It is the costs of these projects in particular which have come down relative to rooftop installations since the program was introduced, enabling a reduction in the tariff rate.

The new price category levels the playing field with other FIT and microFIT categories. The OPA is conducting a 30 day consultation period on the new price category and invites proponents to submit feedback.

Back to News

Product Presentation

Click Here For Live Data From Our Trackers Powerhouse Solar Network

Download Brochure