It's a tough time for the solar panel industry. In the United States, the Obama administration is getting static for giving government loans to solar panel manufacturer Solyndra, which went bankrupt earlier this year. And now, all the eager appreciation for Canadian Solar in Guelph seems to amount to none as the company announced layoffs yesterday. On the other hand, it's not for the reasons you think.
Lloyd Longfield, President of the Guelph Chamber of Commerce told the Guelph Mercury that there's “an enormous backlog” in the Ontario government’s microFIT and FIT (feed-in tariff) programs. For the uninitiated, the government’s microFIT program was started in 2009 to allow small-scale producers of solar energy to receive a set amount for each kilowatt hour of power produced and fed back into the provincial power grid.
The backlog exists because demand for panels is so high right now. “You have a huge supply to meet that demand and then you’ve got papers sitting on desks waiting for approvals, so the whole thing grinds to a halt,” said Longfield, who added that the Provincial election and the potential ambiguous fate of the Green Energy Act can account, in part, for the backlog.
But at the same time, 300 people were hired at a job fair this past spring, and all the people getting pick slips were hired this year. The controversy of the situation in this case, as in the case south of the border with Solyndra, is that the notion of burgeoning economic resolve of green energy is severely tested when jobs are cut and companies go bankrupt. Hopefully, for the workers, this is a short term situation.