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This article was published 30/12/2016 (1591 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
MORE than three times as many Manitobans have applied to participate in Manitoba Hydro’s solar energy program than was first anticipated.
Launched in April by president and CEO Kevin Shepherd, the program offers incentives to customers who install a solar system on their property to generate their own electricity and to reduce their consumption of hydro power.
The utility said it expected about 30 customers to sign up in the first year, but it has received 110 applications so far, with 20 solar installations already completed.
The top three reasons applicants give for wanting to go solar are to reduce their monthly electricity bill, to be more self-sufficient in their energy use and to reduce their impact on the environment, it added.
"The response by Manitobans to the solar energy program is beyond our expectations," said Lloyd Kuczek, Hydro’s vice-president of customer care and energy conservation.
"We are really pleased to be able to offer our customers even more choice when it comes to supplying their energy."
The average system being installed under the program is about seven kilowatts. Such a system requires approximately 28 solar panels taking up more than 400 square feet of roof space. It generates about 75 per cent of the annual electricity used in a typical gas-heated home.
Hydro said the uptake for the program is mostly from residential customers, split evenly between urban and rural. About half of the applicants are also applying to finance their system through Manitoba Hydro’s residential Earth power loan program, which provides up to $30,000 for solar photovoltaic panels. Financing is calculated based on $3,000 per kilowatt installed.
Kuczek said the program is creating new jobs with the companies that install the solar power systems, an additional benefit.
"This is a real Manitoba advantage — having access to renewable electricity, whether generated from our hydro stations or solar sources, while growing the provincial green economy," he said.
He noted Manitoba Hydro already has one of the most renewable energy systems in the world.
"However, the energy needs of the province are growing, and solar energy provides an opportunity to diversity and enhance how Manitoba’s future energy needs will continue to be met in a sustainable manner," he said.
— Murray McNeill