By Joel Wittnebel/The Oshawa Express
The City of Oshawa, Oshawa PUC and the Japanese governmental New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO) have signed a memorandum of understanding to start an innovative solar energy project in the city.
The three partners signed an agreement which will see 30 homes in Oshawa outfitted with equipment that will convert solar energy from panels on their roofs into usable energy inside their homes.
The ceremony for the signing of the MOU included delegates from Japan and the Japanese Consul General.
The energy from the solar panels is stored in batteries inside the home and that energy can be used during peak hours to save the homeowner money.
Mayor John Henry says this is an important step for a city that is becoming a leader in alternative forms of energy.
“Oshawa is the leader in a number of areas, whether it’s nuclear engineering at the university or green energy at the college – we’ve got a lot of great things happening here,” he said.
Henry said he’s proud of the relationships the city has formed with the Japanese government and the signing of the MOU marks a critical moment in the city’s history.
“It starts with that first step, and we’ve taken that first step. It’s just 30 (homes), but can you imagine an entire new industry being started today in the province of Ontario and, again, Oshawa was first,” he said.
Atul Mahajan, the president and CEO of Oshawa PUC, says this is a great opportunity for the utilities company to move toward alternative forms of energy and will be a great benefit for homeowners in Oshawa.
“We are paying nothing, our customers will be paying nothing and that is why, sometimes, if you put your mind to it, you don’t have to be a billionaire to bring technologies to average customers,” he says.
The MOU allows the Japanese government to transfer the equipment to the OPUC free of cost.
Mahajan explains details will be released soon regarding applications for homeowners who are interested in receiving the technology.
“For a consumer, if they can get this energy, cost efficiently, that they generate right at their premises, is not only a highly efficient mechanism of getting that energy, but over a period of time, when the costs of these technologies drop, it will become economically efficient too, but the point is we start studying these technologies today,” Mahajan says.
Although the OPUC will not receive extra income from the project – it may actually lose money from customers taking their homes off the grid during peak hours – Mahajan says the benefit is in investigating new technology.
Currently, power is brought in from miles away and as severe weather continues to wreak havoc on power lines, Mahajan says alternative forms must be found.
“We’re not standing still. We’re saying, ‘Let’s bring in the new technologies and start understanding them today so we can deploy them tomorrow when they are ready in an economical sense,’” he says.
For Mayor Henry, the benefit also comes in the form of job creation and employment down the line when the industry begins to grow.
“We’ve opened the door and now we’re going to go through and take the issue and drive it,” he says.