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.
I don’t get this constant negativism from Tom Adams.
First, the solar industry was correct to point that fraud is not a likely outcome – it’s not achievable nor practical just on the the basis of the physics of the energy conversion, so stop making this a bugaboo.
Second, Tom Adams states that existing contracts are locked in for 20 years with escalation. Sorry, there is no escalation for solar. But wait… just what is Tom Adams implying about those 20 year contracts? Does he suggest they should be torn up? And how good would that be for Ontario? Tom Adams should state what he would do better instead of just carping…
Third, the last line above says the industry does not want to address the risk of fraud… Ummm, the article by David Cork specifically addressed that issue…that’s why the article was written. So… it appears Tom Adams’ approach to discussion is simply deny that the opponent has said anything cogent or focused. Yup, that must be so satisfying for him, because he gets to win every argument with the blunt instrument of denial.
I acknowledge an error in my reference to escalation.
The source of this comment is directly from the heart of the renewable energy pixie dust sales team at the Ontario Sustainable Energy Alliance: http://www.3g-energy.com/?page_id=2
I responded to a similar comment in the Ottawa Citizen (http://www.ottawacitizen.com/opinion/Nothing+shady+about+solar/7629770/story.html) as follows:
Here are three of my old commentaries proposing solutions for Ontario’s wider power problems: https://www.tomadamsenergy.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/solutions1.pdf, http://tinyurl.com/7sq3dwp, https://www.tomadamsenergy.com/2012/11/07/ontario-electricity-system-operational-update-part-2-darkness-and-light/
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“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 ”
So, are there any actual instances of anyone actually doing this?
“All you need is a generator that runs on diesel or gasoline, and a contract to produce solar power.”
LCoE on PV in Ontario is somewhere between 20 and 25 cents. Why would I run a diesel at 35 to 40 cents to generate the same power?
I’m not sure this argument holds much water Tom.
You can try the numbers yourself:
There’s an excel sheet at the bottom you can play with.