Not content to simply make do with Hydro Quebec, a Hemmingford resident now sells electricity generated from solar panels installed on his roof to the public utility. “All young people able to go to high school can learn to install solar panels,” says Glenn Hodgins. “It’s so easy; you don’t need an engineer’s degree.”
In August 2016, he completed the application process with Hydro-Quebec to become an electricity producer. Subsequently, he purchased his solar panels from the Ontario-based firm Solacity Inc. The price of the panels varies according to dimension: from $219 per unit for a 1×1.5 metre panel and $249 for a 1×2 metre panel. The panels have a capacity of 265 watts to 315 watts.
“The shovel on my tractor was very useful for mounting the solar panels on the roof,” he says. “With the help of two young assistants, the installation was completed in a few days.” Once installed, he asked an electrician to verify the connections between the panels with the household electric box.
With user-friendly software, Hodgins can check the production of each solar panel, as each is equipped with sensors. He estimates he will be able to produce 15,000 watts this year, which is considerably higher than his consumption the previous year of 9,600 watts.
This is all well and good, but what happens on days with less sun? “The system is automatically inverted, and I source my electricity from Hydro-Quebec,” he explains, while happily producing his hydro bill which shows a credit for $152 instead of a bill for $400. He admits he is looking forward to being able to purchase an electric car. “Think of it, no more need to spend a hundred dollars a month on gasoline,” he says.
“Solar is the future,” notes Hodgins, suggesting that even just installing a few solar panels on a roof is profitable. In the United States, more than 200,000 people are now working in the solar energy sector. IN 2016 alone, they installed 14,762 megawatts, which is greater than the annual production from the La Grande Station in James Bay, and a 97% increase over 2015. In fact, solar power is expected to surpass wind and gas as sources of energy south of the border.
In the neighbouring province, where electricity costs twice as much as in Quebec, Ontario Hydro encourages solar production through subsidies and buys back all surplus energy. This is not the case in Quebec, as Hydro-Quebec has abundant supply and energy costs are among the lowest in North America and even around the world.
Glenn Hodgins is inviting those interested to view his solar installation on Youtube under the title ‘Electric roof in Hemmingford’.
Denise St-Germain, volunteer correspondent for the Haut-Saint-Laurent
Translated by Sarah Rennie, volunteer correspondent for the Haut-Saint-Laurent