This month we had the opportunity to interview Steve Dyck, President of Guelph Solar about his company, the types of projects they work on, and what makes them unique. CED Co-op has worked with Guelph Solar on four projects and we have three more contracted with them. They are a great company to work with and we wanted to share a little bit more about them with our readers.
Steve, please tell us about Guelph Solar. When did you start your company and how did it begin?
I started Guelph Solar in 2009 by installing solar water heating systems, primarily for dairy farms and apartment buildings. This was when the price of natural gas was high and the Eco Energy Program had great incentives for installing solar water heating systems. Dairy farms use a lot of hot water to clean the milking equipment so it was great to get much of it heated by solar panels.
What kind of projects do you tackle now?
A couple years into installing solar thermal, the microFIT program really got going so we began installing solar electric panels on residential homes and institutions. It’s a great investment opportunity for those who participate. We have installed over 200 microFIT systems now and the homeowners we have been fortunate to work with are very happy with their solar panels!
More recently, we have had the great fortune to collaborate on CED Co-op and Vigor Clean Tech FIT projects (10-500 kW commercial projects). It has been very exciting to have the projects work out so well.
Which CED Co-op projects have you built, and which is currently your favourite project?
Guelph Solar was the installation company for the Rohnbrad Projects (40 Lewis, 20 Massey, and 400 Southgate in Guelph). Working with CED Co-op has been great. It’s been fulfilling to engage with local community members and a co-operative organization. We feel that it has been mutually beneficial.
I grew up on a farm, so the opportunity for an upcoming Guelph Solar and CED Co-op project in Fletcher, a barn covered with solar panels and surrounded by green fields is my favourite!
Where is the microFIT program at right now, and where it is going?
There is lots of good news in microFIT. The cost of panels is very low right now. A 10kW solar microFIT system is the cheapest it has ever been, about $28,000. Additionally, Hydro One recently opened new areas for solar microFIT in the Oustic, Everton, Ospringe, Rockwood and Erin areas. We want the community to know that with capacity opened, now is the time to be thinking about investing in a roof top solar system. The microFIT program is slated to end in 2017 so it is really beneficial to get solar now while homeowners and institutions can get such a good premium on the energy their system produces.
Where do you see your company going after microFIT has closed down?
As the microFIT program winds down, solar net metering will be the new way to go. Guelph Solar is excited about working with CED Co-op on something called virtual net metering. This is a potential new policy that would be in effect in 2018. In this system, communities can own a commercial project and buy electricity from it and not necessarily have panels on their own roof. The panels could be on nearby farms, grocery stores, or manufacturing plant. Of course, we hope to continue working with CED Co-op on these projects if they do come to fruition!
What makes Guelph Solar unique as a business and in the solar industry?
Our team is really what makes us who we are! I’m so lucky to have a full team of dedicated, enthusiastic, passionate individuals who work together towards the success of our business and of solar. They are always interested in becoming involved in the community, supporting projects which benefit people and environment, and making a positive contribution to the world from Guelph! Our solar team has been so successful that we were awarded the Excellence in Business Award for 2016 from the Guelph Chamber of Commerce.
We also really value our clients and build relationships with the people we work with. Most of our clients come from word of mouth, so I think it shows that we sincerely value our customers.