Thursday, October 25, 2012

3 flavours of sunny delight for Barrie

Shifting from our fossil-fuel based economy to a renewable one is expensive but inevitable, so we must stop investing in the carbon economy now; every investment locks us in to an unsustainable and unaffordable future for that much longer. Far cheaper in the long run to only invest in sustainable infrastructure that needn’t be replaced, or force us to burn yet more carbon.
Although we can’t control what government does (especially when prorogued), we can invest in our own community’s renewable power directly. And that’s also important because we are more secure when we create energy right here instead of having to pipe it in from distant gas fields or nuclear plants.
The good news is that there are now at least three different ways for Barrie residents to move us off carbon, increase local energy generation, and receive a good financial return for doing it.
The simplest is microFIT: install up to 10 kilowatts of solar panels on your roof and receive almost 55 cents per kw/h you produce over the next 20 years. The drawback? You must finance around $50,000 yourself, which is why my own project took a couple of years to set up. But don’t despair. There are also two different co-operative solar models recruiting members in the Barrie area.
One of them, EthoSolar, groups many property owners together into a single unit. You still provide a location to put up panels, but the panels are purchased and installed in bulk to save you money. After your $100 co-op membership fee, you can then finance the rest through the co-op’s long-term standard loan agreement at a fixed rate. That means you’re never out of pocket, because each year’s income covers the loan payments, plus money left over. Have a prime location for solar power but can’t easily pull together the start-up cost? This plan is for you.
Another plan, being arranged in partnership with the Options for Green Energy co-op, features each member purchasing one or more $5,000 equal shares. The shares will be combined to set up a single, large-scale rooftop project that’s already been registered under older, more generous rates. Each $5,000 will begin paying 5% per year, increasing to 6% and then 7% over the course of the 20-year contract. At the end, you even get your original $5,000 back. In effect, it works just like a long-term escalator bond. This co-op is suitable for an investor with money to invest but no location for panels.
Timelines are tight and opportunities may close in the new year, so if you are ready for your place in the sun, Barrie is ready for you now! For specific details about EthoSolar, contact or 705-795-6140. To learn about the OPTIONS co-op, contact And for microFIT, visit
Published as my Root Issues column in the Barrie Examiner under the title "There are ways to move away from using carbon"
Erich Jacoby-Hawkins is a director of Living Green and the Robert Schalkenbach Foundation.

1 comment:

  1. A thing about solar energy is that it's renewable and gives a lot of benefits to the people. It's a bonus that solar panel cleaning is also easy to do in order to maintain them.