Here’s how Manitoba Hydro’s Power Smart solar energy program works:
Launched on April 22, the program is open to both residential and commercial customers.
It offers an incentive of $1 per watt for solar photovoltaic (PV) systems ranging in size from 2.9 kilowatts (2,900 watts) to 10 kilowatts (10,000 watts). So if a customer installs a five-kilowatt (5,000-watt) system, the incentive would be $5,000. If it’s a 10-kilowatt system, the incentive is $10,000.
Manitoba Hydro estimates it costs about $4 per watt to install a system, although some providers are charging $3.50. So at $1 per watt, the incentive should cover at least 25 per cent of the costs of a new installation.
Customers can apply for a loan from Manitoba Hydro for up to $30,000, with up to 15 years to pay it back at an interest rate of 4.9 per cent per year. Their monthly installment can be added to their monthly Manitoba Hydro bill.
The solar system is connected to the customer’s breaker panel, and the power it produces flows to wherever it is needed at that time. So if the customer is home and using power to run the house lights, the kettle, or whatever, the power goes to the house, and the customer’s Manitoba Hydro meter stops spinning because the house isn’t drawing any power from the grid. Whatever power the customer doesn’t use flows into Hydro’s power grid, and the customer receives a credit on their monthly bill.
— source: Manitoba Hydro / Sycamore Energy
Manitoba solar-energy providers aren’t the only ones singing the praises of Manitoba Hydro’s new program. Here’s what others had to say about the program:
Patrick Bateman, director of market intelligence & research for the Canadian Solar Industries Association:
Bateman said Manitoba, Ontario, Saskatchewan and Alberta now have incentive programs for solar energy, and Nova Scotia should soon have one. He said Ontario’s program has been the most successful so far, and Manitoba’s program is competitive with Ontario’s program as well as Saskatchewan’s.
“Manitoba Hydro’s new solar program is an excellent example of how utilities can give their consumers more choice, leverage private capital to invest in the electricity system and gain experience with new technologies,” he added. “Manitoba Hydro’s approach reduces the upfront costs for adopters and allows them to finance the balance with a competitive rate of interest.”
He noted the cost of solar energy systems has dropped by more than two-thirds in the past five years, “and all of the provinces that have not considered it as a mainstream option in the past are now examining their policy and regulatory frameworks to understand the role it will play as it becomes one of the lowest-cost options for new (electrical) generation in the future.”
Sentinel Solar Inc.
The Ontario manufacturer and distributor of solar systems and components — panels, storage batteries and converters — to providers and dealers across the country, describes the Manitoba program as the best in Canada.
“The cost to install a solar system has been reduced drastically in the last few years, and this new program further reduces the cost, making it more affordable to go green,” company president Adam Webb said.
Derick Lila, the company’s marketing director, said the new program makes it easier for new players, such as electrical companies, to diversify into selling and installing solar-energy systems.
“This is a really good opportunity for them (Manitoba homeowners and commercial property owners and managers) to buy into the industry. We’re anticipating the (Manitoba) industry to grow fairly quickly,” he added.