Canadian Plastics

Ontario moldmaker connects to provincial Feed-in Tariff program

It's not exactly a second vocation, voca tion, but moldmaker Compact Mould Ltd. has just broken into the energy supply business -- starting out not on the ground floor, but on the roof.

September 1, 2010   Canadian Plastics



It’s not exactly a second vocation, voca tion, but moldmaker Compact Mould Ltd. has just broken into the energy supply business — starting out not on the ground floor, but on the roof.

The Woodbridge, Ont.-based company recently finished completion of two rooftop solar panel systems — one in Woodbridge and the other at its nearby Brampton facility — as part of the provincial government’s Feed-in Tariff (FIT) program. Here’s how it works: The solar photovoltaic (PV) generators will produce solar electricity which the municipalities will then buy from Compact Mould for the fixed price of 80.2 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh); Compact Mould can then put that money towards its own power bill.

SMART IDEA

The rooftop solar PV generator at the company’s Brampton plant was connected to the power grid in June, with an official start-up ceremony held in August attended by Dr. Kuldip Kular, MPP for Bramalea-Gore-Malton. The PV panels at the Woodbridge Wood bridge facility will be fully outfitted and operational in September. Both generators were paid for in part through Ontario’s new SMART program, created by the Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters industry association — with funding from the provincial government — to help small-and medium-sized businesses adopt more energy efficient operations. “The total investment for the solar panels was approximately $100,000, one-half of which will be paid for by SMART,” said Compact Mould president Miguel Petrucci. “We received $15,000 from the program up front, and have applied for repayment of the remaining $35,000.”

Run by the Ontario Power Authority (OPA), the FIT program is for renewable energy projects that can generate more than 10 kW of electricity to be fed directly into Ontario’s power grid; smaller projects, at a home or small business, that can generate 10 kW or less qualify for the OPA’s microFIT program, under which Compact Mould’s project falls.

“The idea to do this came from our having attended a SMART program seminar,” Petrucci explained. “We applied for the SMART program for funding, and then applied to the OPA for approval of our microFIT project. We then worked with local solar panel developer Icarus Power Generation on the project, with the cities of Woodbridge and Brampton finally approving the plans before we could go ahead with construction.”

LONG-TERM BENEFITS

Space-wise, it’s not a big investment for Compact Mould. The solar panels at the Brampton plant cover 2,000 square feet of a 35,000 square-foot area, and the panels at Woodbridge will cover approximately 1,250 square feet of a 25,000-square-foot rooftop. One-hour shutdowns are necessary at both plants for the actual power hookup process, but beyond that there’s no interruption of the daily routine. The benefits should be bigger. “We expect to be able to pay roughly one-quarter of our own electricity costs through the solar panels,” Petrucci said. “We’ve signed a 20-year contract with the OPA that pays us the guaranteed 80.2 cents per kWh.”

Since Compact Mould owns both the Woodbridge and Brampton plants, the investment made sense from that perspective too. “The initial investment in the solar generators was high, but we expect a quick payback on it, hopefully within four years,” Petrucci said. “In the long run, we’re certain that the incentives and stable prices offered will result in significant savings, as well as revenue for the future of our business.”


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