Empowering Solar Rooftops in Ontario

SunEdison, the solar energy subsidiary of MEMC Electronic Materials, Inc., and GE Capital Real Estate have taken the next step in the GE Capital Real Estate environmental sustainability initiative by activating the first two of fifteen solar rooftop systems using the Ontario Feed-in Tariff (FIT) that are helping to reduce carbon emissions in Canada.

SunEdison is building and operating all fifteen photovoltaic (PV) solar energy systems and GE Capital Real Estate is hosting the installations on its commercial buildings in the Greater Toronto Area, including Vaughan, Brampton, Burlington, Markham, and Mississauga, with additional systems located in London. The first two systems are expected to generate more than 3.2 million kWh of clean energy over a 20-year period. In total, the fifteen targeted projects between GE Capital Real Estate and SunEdison represent over 2.3 MW of capacity, and have the potential to offset an estimated 9.8 million kilograms of CO2 into the atmosphere, the equivalent of removing 5,515 cars from the road for one year.

Jason Gray, Canada Country Manager for SunEdison, commented, “GE Capital Real Estate joins a growing list of SunEdison customers who have discovered that our solar offering provides building owners with a low-risk green initiative that provides a new revenue stream with no upfront capital outlay.”

Gray added, “We are pleased to help GE Capital Real Estate achieve their sustainability goals, while continuing to help create hundreds of green jobs in the region through the local production of our solar equipment.”

Adding to the significance of the activation today is the fact that these installations join a small group of FIT supported projects in Ontario that have reached commercial operation. The Ontario FIT program, which began in early 2009, is still in its early stages and only approximately three percent of the nearly 2,085 solar rooftop contracts offered to date have reached this milestone.

Also of significance, and as part of Ontario’s FIT program, the racking materials used in this project were manufactured locally. In 2010, SunEdison established a relationship to produce solar racking equipment in Scarborough, Ontario, helping to stimulate job creation in the province’s manufacturing sector.

Explaining the economic benefits, York Region Chairman and CEO Bill Fisch said, “The adoption of solar energy in installations like this will help transform how we build and manage our cities, our businesses and even our homes. It will add to major investments The Regional Municipality of York is making in public transit and transportation, community services and security and will help ensure our businesses and communities are competitive, prosperous and sustainable.”

Matthew Walton, Asset Manager with GE Capital Real Estate in Toronto, added, “This program illustrates how GE Capital Real Estate is identifying and executing innovative sustainable strategies to maximize asset value. We are focused on maintaining an environmental leadership position in commercial real estate. Our partnership with SunEdison and this rooftop solar initiative is an important step in meeting our sustainability goals.”

Ontario’s Feed-In Tariff (FIT) program for renewable energy generation is a cornerstone of the province’s Green Energy Act. Under the program, participants are paid a fixed-price for the electricity they generate over a 20 year contract period.

Read Rooftop Revolution: How Solar Power Can Save Our Economy-and Our Planet-from Dirty Energy from Amazon.