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Concerned about the environment, especially global warming, and frustrated by the lack of government action, many Ontario residents are taking steps to reduce their own carbon emissions. One way they are doing this is by installing solar thermal and solar photovoltaic panels on their own homes. But this can be a daunting task requiring individuals to learn about the technology, meet a myriad of regulations, obtain the necessary building permits and apply for government incentives and rebates. In some municipalities rezoning is required while getting connected to the grid can be very difficult and time consuming. On top of that, many people feel uncomfortable choosing and buying a solar system and finding a reputable company to install the system.
Instead of tackling these hurdles on their own, individuals have joined forces with their neighbours and friends who share their concern for the environment. As well as pooling their knowledge, residents that work together can enjoy substantial savings by buying solar systems in bulk. Bulk buying also lowers the cost of installations because the installer can work on a number of homes all in the same vicinity.
This is what the residents of one Toronto neighbourhood did, forming the group, The West Toronto Initiative for Solar Energy in the summer of 2007. The group provoked a lot of interest and initially 160 households requested an evaluation of their homes to determine their suitability for solar power. Of those, only 14 homes proved unsuitable. By the fall of 2008, 34 solar PV systems had been installed and 60 solar hot water systems installed or under contract.
Similar neighbourhood solar projects have since been initiated in Guelph, Waterloo, Mississauga and Brampton, In Toronto is residents of Ward 30 are being offered $2,000 as an incentive to install solar hot water heaters as part of the city’s Solar Neighbourhoods pilot project.
Last Updated: Friday, September 26, 2008 at 3:14:20 PM