Solar Energy Options

Thinking of going solar? Let’s talk about your options.


In Ontario we have two distinct programs to support solar generation investments; FIT/Micro-FIT and Net Metering. These programs give property owners the opportunity to invest in their own, personal energy infrastructure. A Net Metered system helps to reduce or eliminate hydro bills (the power goes to you!) with the extra option of emergency backup power. A Micro-FIT system grants you the opportunity to earn a generous, stable return on investment by earning a premium rate for the power your solar panels produce (the power goes to the grid!). Ontario’s property owners can take control of their energy costs and even generate revenue. Scroll down to learn more about your options.

Ontario's historical hydro rates

OPTION A) Power goes to grid

Grid-tied hydro meter for Micro-FIT

Introduced in 2009, the Ontario Feed in Tariff (FIT/Micro-FIT) program allows owners of residential, commercial and institutional buildings to earn revenue from renewable electricity generation. The main benefit of this program is not to use the renewable energy to reduce your utility bill but rather to sell the electricity back to the grid at a guaranteed rate. A second hydro meter is installed to measure your generated electricity while the your original hydro meter continues to measure the incoming electricity. The rate paid to you for your generated electricity ($0.294/kWh at the time of writing) is higher than the rate you pay for your hydro and is guaranteed not to change for a 20-year term. Most well designed systems can pay for themselves in 9-11 years.



  • Guaranteed revenue stream with locked in rate for 20 years
  • Great asset for retirement income 
  • Panels last for 40+ years
  • After 20 year term you can use panels to power your home


  • Income is taxable
  • One time $1000 meter/connection fee
  • 2nd monthly account fee
  • You cannot use the solar power during a blackout. No emergency backup power option.

Option B) Power goes to you

Net metering has a different approach. Under this program the concept is to use the electricity generated by the solar array to offset the electricity used by your building. A new hydrometer is installed that spins in two directions. It measures your incoming and outdoing electricity allowing you to rack up ‘credits’ if you produce more energy than your building is using at any given time. Any accumulated credits are available for use for a time period up to and including 11 months. Unused credits are then deleted from the account. Rather than receiving revenue from solar system, net metering allows the property owner to reduce or eliminate the electricity portion of their hydro bill. Return on investment (ROI) time frame depends on a number of factors including size/cost of system and electricity rate changes over time.

Solar panels mounted to veranda roof


  • Lower/eliminate your monthly hydro bill
  • Savings are in after tax dollars
  • No connection fee
  • No second monthly account fee
  • Tax deductions for business owners
  • Back up power options
  • Rates will continue to rise, accelerating ROI over time
  • If you produce more than you use, credits will be stored for future bills. (up to 1 year max.)
  • Panels last 40+ years


  • No revenue stream from the power your system produces.

“Why would I want backup power?”

Ontario Hydro workers assess damaged power lines

During the ice storm in 2013 hundreds of thousands of homes lost power here in Ontario and many of them did not have it restored for over a week. Again in 2016 over 100,000 customers lost power across the eastern United States during “Stormzilla”. You can bet that many people wished they had been prepared with some form of back up power. With a Net Metered solar array you have the option of adding a battery bank that can supply back up power to your most critical electrical circuits during a black out. Fridges and freezers, security systems, microwave oven, furnace fans, critical lighting can remain functional. The solar array replenishes the batteries daily, allowing the backup system to provide power through extended black outs.

Backup power can provide not only comfort and security to your home but can also be the difference between life and death for people who require medical equipment at home. And it’s only available to a Net Metered system, not a Micro-FIT connected system.

“So what does all of this mean for me?”

At the end of the day you need to decide which type of system really benefits you the most. For some home owners a Micro-FIT system makes the most financial sense. You can expect roughly a 10% per year return on your investment with a rate that in guaranteed for 20 years. This is great for young professionals looking for a secure long term investment.  It also suits folks who are approaching retirement and would like to boost their retirement income. Just keep in mind that the revenues are taxable you won’t be disappointed.

Business owners and those interested in backup power options have a very strong case for choosing Net Metering. There are generous tax write offs and when you save on your electricity bill you’re saving after tax dollars. That means that a dollar saved is actually worth more than a dollar earned. As hydro rates trend upwards to does the speed at which your investment pays itself off. Back up power options give you the added benefit of comfort and security during power outages.

Click here to see graphs that illustrate and compare the potential long term financial benefits of each option.

We feel that it’s important not only to have the expertise to design and install a rooftop PV system, but also the knowledge to help guide clients to the program that most benefits them in the long run. Looking out for the environment, comfort and the bottom line go hand in hand at Genoscape.

Solar panels silently at work