Protecting Ontario Ratepayers from Solar Fraud

Notwithstanding the McGuinty government’s recent retrenchment on one of the government’s more egregiously profligate solar power subsidy schemes, the remaining solar Feed-In Tariff (FIT) program rewards solar producers with prices so much higher than any measure of the value of electricity produced that the program remains vulnerable to fraud. With many thousands of installations and the prospects for vast illicit profits, Ontario will attract the attention the solar criminal element.
Grid power can be purchased at prices one quarter or less compared to what the government is paying solar producers under FIT. Even primitive diesel generators can deliver power for about half the solar prices.
This vast margin between value and subsidized purchase price creates endless opportunities for fraudsters to use more economical substituted power to inflate their solar profits.
Fraudsters might replace a few of their costly solar panels with simple sheets of glass painted to look like the real thing. To avoid detection, solar substituting power might be sold back to the government at quantities exactly matching the production pattern of real panels. Rather than incurring the expense of maintaining and insuring panels, the degradation of performance over time could be replaced by fraudulently supplied power.
Currently, the Ontario Power Authority has no capacity for fraud protection. Examples of fraud protection measures that are required include unannounced inspections, fraud detection software tools to scan invoices for potential fraud, and remote sensing capacity to detect tampering.

9 Comments

  1. I think that the bigger problem is that solar power in Ontario is not just a waste of money, i’ts a waste of energy. If you add up all of the individual btus and kwhs involved in a solar installation in cloudy Ontario, the payback time is never, not in a million years.

  2. Question. If i reduce my electricity demand by 20% for example. My monthly bill is $100 and i manage through conservation and conscious effort to reduce it to $80 am i not effectively putting 20% back into the system? Rather than put solar panels on my roof and charge the liberal govt 80c a kwh i purpose to only charge them 50c per kwh for what i dont use (the 20%) that would effectively mean my electricity is free and they owe me some money. They already pay people not to use their air conditioners (a subsidy for conservation) which is in effect what they are doing but the payment isnt quite as large. Why not say, for every percentage drop in historic usage we will pay (x amount of $). This would in effect put more money in every bodies pockets not just the financing of a few pop-up companies pocketbooks with zero benefit in green energy production or employment.

  3. Mr. Brooks’s comment highlights the inherent logical problems in paying someone to not do something. Conservation programs based on the concept that consumers should be paid for not doing something should only be considered in exceptional cases when more rational alternatives are not available.

  4. I think you are slightly over-reacting to flatly state solar producers will be fraudsters. Pure speculation. Buying an alternate system such as a gas powered generator, wiring it into the system [not ESA approved] would be expensive and illegal. Are you serious, trying to build an irrational case against solar, or just trying to scare people?

  5. To equate the recent Mafia arrest to FIT fraud is illogical – the Mafia uses many many industries to launder money which you likely know. So singling out the OPA’s FIT and referring to Mafia is extreme speculation. It would be easy for the OPA and the LDC to monitor for fraud – any over or under performing system could be detected with a very simple analysis.
    If you had read the article about Spain and fraud, you would have equally have understood your concern and the issue Spain faced were two completely different issues.
    The OPA has never said they wouldn’t ignore potential fraud. So why fret that they won’t? Our time would be best spent investigating real issues, and stopping armchair speculation.
    Comment if you please, but my time is misplaced on this discussion from here on. I suggest actual criminal issues be pursued instead of agitating poorly informed readers.

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