The Ottawa Citizen’s Tom Spears has a long record of carefully and insightfully reporting on the risk of solar fraud in Ontario. Here is a note on a previous example of his work.
I presented a short commentary on the risk to Ontario ratepayers of solar fraud in July 2010 here. My main points were that vast price differences between the cost of grid power relative to the price paid for solar FIT power creates an opportunity for fraudsters and that smart fraudsters will be careful to ensure that their revenue generating phony output exactly matches the output profile of real solar panels. As Bruce Sharp has noted previously on this site, “Buy one set of panels and other equipment. Install the panels, wire it up, have your site assessment done, disassemble. Monitor solar radiation and return appropriate amount of power to the system. Repeat.”
Earlier this week the Ottawa Citizen returned to this issue with a very solid editorial.
The main point in the editorial is to note that the Ontario Power Authority’s lack of responsiveness on inquiries about the mitigation of solar fraud is symptomatic of an “unacceptably stifled” flow of information from official Ontario about electricity issues.
The solar power industry has responded to the Citizen editorial with series of straw man and inaccurate complaints. David Cork of the Canadian Solar Industry Association claims that editorial is “flawed”. Cork claims that fraudsters could never outsmart government inspections, smart meters, and government contracts. Cork notes that the government can even detect “if you are generating during hours when there is no sunlight.” Cork does not address fraudsters who might make their fake output appear identical to the real thing. Cork also attacks the editorial for pointing out that some solar generators are paid 80 cents/kWh, saying “The other tired inaccuracy being perpetuated is the 80-cent rate for home solar.”
The solar industry wants to draw attention to the FIT price going down. The solar subsidy feeders don’t want to talk about is how existing contracts are locked in for 20 years with escalation. Nor do they want to address the risk of fraud.