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.