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OPA FIT program accepting applications for Solar projects over 10kW
November 7th 2013

Written by: agoldwater

The OPA is now accepting Applications for Small FIT Projects with a proposed capacity of more than 10 kilowatts (kW) and generally up to 500 kW. The OPA will award up to 123.5 megawatts (MW) worth of Contracts (the Procurement Target) as a result of Applications received during this FIT Application Period. This includes the 2013 Procurement Target of up to 70 MW plus 53.5 MW remaining from the previous Application Period.

The FIT Application Start Date is November 4, 2013, and the Application End Date is December 13, 2013 at 11:59:59 p.m. Eastern Prevailing Time. Applicants are required to submit hard-copy Application materials and payment to the OPA’s offices no later than five Business Days after the date of submitting an electronic Application Form.

Both ground mounted (28.8 cents/kWh) and roof mounted (32.9 – 34.5 cents/kWh) solar power projects are eligible.  See the current rates here:

If you are interested in submitting an application or would like more information, call Goldwater Solar at 416.400.4747 or email us at

Winterizing your Solar Pool Heating System
October 22nd 2013

Written by: agoldwater

We get a lot of calls every year from customers wondering how to close down their solar pool heating system.  There are a couple rules of thumb to follow to make sure you have done a proper job.

The first thing to consider is when to do it.  Most important, of course, is to make sure you do it before the first frost.  We also recommend doing it after you have closed the pool.  You don’t want to close down your solar pool heating system only to have your pool maintenance company turn the pump back on and fill up the solar collectors again.  Your pool maintenance company or whoever closes the pool down will most likely blow out all the lines when they close your pool down.  But the question is, did they do a good job getting all of the pool water out of the solar pool collectors on the roof.

We also recommend putting the solar actuator into the ‘All Open’ position before you pool maintenance company blows out the pool lines.  That’s the position where the actuator has turned so that all the ports in the 3-Port valve are open.  The way to do this is to turn the switch on the controller whichever way you need to to get the actuator to rotate.  Once the valve moves into the middle position (see picture below – usually where the handle points to the pipe coming from the pool), unplug the controller.  This ensures that no water gets trapped next to the 3-port valve.

Solar pool heating system actuator in the middle position

The solar actuator in the middle position

If your roof is sloped, hopefully your solar installation company will have installed the system so that there aren’t any low points in the system that can trap water.  If there are low points, or if you have a flat roof, you will likely have to get on the roof and undo what we call end (or screw) caps.  In most cases these are just threaded caps that screw into the end of the panels at the bottom (see image below).

Solar pool heater end cap for drainage

Solar pool heater end cap for drainage

Usually the solar installation company has installed either screw caps onto a ‘T’ on both of the pipes going up to the roof or a couple of unions or ball valves with unions that can be unscrewed to drain the system out from the ground.  What we recommend our customers do is blow out both of these pipes from the ground with a Shop Vacuum, Leaf Blower or something equivalent.  Spend a few minutes blowing up each side until no more water comes out the other end.  If this is done and the pool is closed for the year, then you can be pretty certain that you have most of the water out of the system.  As long as no water is trapped in a low point, you can screw back in your unions or screw caps and leave it for the winter.   Again, in a flat roof situation it is a good idea to still go on the roof to unscrew the end caps to drain out the system.

Solar drain and shut off ball valve

For shutting off the solar pool heating system and closing down the pool

In the Spring, all you will need to do is plug in the controller, set the controller to AUTO and make sure the actuator is set back to the correct ‘ON’ position.   The actuator is the electronic box that sits on the 3-Port valve that automatically rotates it.  Remember sometimes the pool maintenance companies change the ON position on the actuator.  Actuators have a little toggle switch on the back that has 3 positions; ON1, OFF and ON2.  It’s a good idea to note which is the correct ON position for the actuator.  If the toggle switch is in the wrong position, then the solar actuator will rotate the opposite way that you want it to.

The way you determine if the actuator is in the correct position is simple.  Plug in the controller, set the controller to ‘Solar Test’ (or ‘Solar ON’ – see image below) and watch to see if the solar side (the side that goes up to the roof) is open.  You know it’s open when the handle points to the side that is the going up to the roof (See the image above).  The side that comes back down from the roof (commonly referred to as the Return) often has a one way valve (or check valve) on it and a ‘T’ that leads into the pipe that returns back to the pool.  If the handle is pointing in the direction of the Return, chances are the actuator is in the wrong ‘ON’ position and you need to switch it to the other ON position.

Solar controller switch Position

Solar Controller Switch Positions

Solar and other Renewables are set to become the largest source for Electricity
October 17th 2013

Written by: agoldwater

As of 2013, wind, solar, biomass and geothermal renewable energy sources accounted for 24.95% of all new U.S electrical generating capacity projects installed in that first six months of 2013. This equals a total of 2,144 MW, according to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commissions latest report. These renewable energy sources provide more new generating capacity than coal, oil and nuclear power combined. Solar alone has accounted for over 48% of all new electric capacity.
Worldwide, natural gas is still dominating the first half of 2013, but the International Energy Agency (IEA) has a new report claiming power generation from the renewable sources listed above will surpass that from natural gas by 2016.

This huge takeover is not just great for clean energy production, but disaster mitigation. If storms hit and solar systems contain inverters capable of working when the power is shut down, solar can be more reliable than nuclear and coal powered plants. Plus, power outages can be very costly, and money saved is money earned for both civilians and government. However, in order for solar power projects to continue as they are today, pressure needs to be taken off on solar energy firms who lower their prices due to oversea competitors.

The European Union’s anti-dumping tariffs, which are increasing the price for Chinese solar modules, is one way that can continue the investment in Canadian and American renewable energy projects. This tariff will cause South Korean and Western suppliers more competitive prices with Chinese-made products. The Tariff can be beneficial to American and Canadian solar businesses but Henning Wicht, senior director of solar research for HIS, believes this tariff will cause many solar companies to go out of business. Glenn Gu, a senior PV analyst at HIS, believes global supply lines and pricing will be shaken up dramatically as well.

Fortunately, Canadian solar companies may have a chance to redeem themselves due to the new microFIT program update, which will be accepting 30 MW of new capacity every year starting in the fall of 2013 over the next four years. But this is not enough, in order to ensure a stable increase in renewable investments, Ontario needs to focus on the long-term energy plan. The Ontario’s Review of the Long Term Energy Plan looks beyond 2018, and asks questions about innovative strategies and technologies that Ontario could pursue in order to have further development and better integrate renewable energy generation into the system. Industry and interested stakeholders can participate thought an online survey, a formal submission to the Environmental Registry, or through public open house meetings that are listed on CanSIA’s main web site.

Solar Companies can also keep themselves from bankruptcy by providing their services overseas or out of country. Canadian Solar just recently completed a 30 MW rooftop PV system installation in Suzhou, China. Businesses can also see what American companies are doing, since the U.S is the fourth country (after Germany, Italy and China) in the world to reach the 10 GW milestone of installed PV capacity. Solar PV is also one of the fastest growing energy sources in the U.S., with a compound annual growth rate of over 50% since 2007. This increase can be contributed to the decreasing prices for installed systems, falling from $6/W to $4.25/W. If these trends continue as expected, it looks to be a bright future for solar.

MicroFIT Program reopened
October 17th 2013

Written by: agoldwater

As of August 28th, 2013 MicroFIT reopened their portal to accept new applications.  A 30 MW procurement target is now in effect for the remainder of 2013.

The OPA will accept applications until either the 30 MW microFIT procurement target is reached, or December 31, 2013. At that point the OPA will begin accepting applications under the 2014 50 MW procurement target. Any unused capacity from the 30 MW procurement target will be added to the 2014 50 MW procurement target.

The OPA will review all applications that are submitted to ensure they are complete, eligible and contain all required information.

Let us help you put together the OPA application.  Call us today!

Still MicroFIT Space Available
March 6th 2013

Written by: admin

Still MicroFIT  Space Available

On January 29th, 2013 the OPA announced that there is still processing applications under MicroFIT until the 50MW procurement target is achieved.  During a phone conversation with the people at MicroFIT, there was still about 11MW available.

Make sure you put in your application as soon as possible to take advantage of the 54.9 cents/kWh currently being offered through MicroFIT.   Once the 50MW procurement target is achieved, the future of MicroFIT is in question.  We can help you put in your application to secure your spot.

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