By Portland Business Journal

Eugene-based Grape Solar on Thursday said it's organizing a new consortium of solar manufacturers in Canada to service demand from a lucrative incentive program in Ontario.

The move is the companyâ¿¿s attempt to latch onto the Canadian provinceâ¿¿s feed-in tariff program, in which consumers can sell power generated by solar energy systems back to participating utilities at above-market rates.

Oregon last week launched a similar pilot program offering payment of up to 65 cents per kilowatt-hour. But Oregonâ¿¿s program is capped at 25 megawatts of capacity, a threshold that was reached within a few hours after the program kicked-off.

Ontarioâ¿¿s feed-in tariff, however, isnâ¿¿t capped and will pay owners of solar installations around 80 cents per kilowatt-hour, Yuan said.

But Ontarioâ¿¿s program requires that the solar energy systems be made locally.

Year-old Grape Solar is a consortium of Chinese manufacturers within the solar panel supply chain who ship components to Eugene where the panels are assembled and marketed in the U.S. under the Grape Solar brand.

Now the company is looking to set-up a similar arrangement in Ontario thatâ¿¿s broadened to include manufacturers of inverters, racking systems, and system installers.

The Ontario consortium so far includes Sungrow, Chinaâ¿¿s largest inverter manufacturer; Patriot Solar, a Michigan-based maker of ground-mounted systems; Wise Power, a Delaware maker of rooftop racking systems; and Blackstone Solar, a Toronto-based maker of solar water heaters.

Only one of those companies is based in Ontario, but Yuan said the programâ¿¿s rules allow for systems that are assembled locally, even if their components are made elsewhere.

Yuan said Grapeâ¿¿s goal in Ontario is to make a 10-kilowatt system available to consumers for around $60,000, or $6 per watt â¿¿ an investment that would be paid off within five-and-a-half years with payments from Ontarioâ¿¿s feed-in tariff.

Copyright 2010 American City Business Journals

Copyright 2010