NEW GOVERNMENT PROGRAM MAKES SOLAR MORE AFFORDABLE FOR NOVA SCOTIA HOMES
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by Michelle Moore
Electricity costs in Nova Scotia are already some of the highest in the country, but Nova Scotia Power projects that costs will rise in the next couple of years due to an increase in fuel costs.
On June 25 the provincial government announced that starting in mid-August, homeowners can take part in the SolarHomes Program, which will save them money on a solar installation.
For Nova Scotians, the announcement of a government program is good news for homeowners looking for way to reduce their power bills and their carbon footprint.
The program is being financed through the federal government's $56 million commitment to Nova Scotia from the Low Carbon Economy Leadership fund and will be administered by Efficiency Nova Scotia.
The announcement was made by Minister of the Public Service Commission Tony Ince, on behalf of Energy Minister Geoff MacLellan, and MP Darren Fisher and of Minister of Environment and Climate Change Catherine McKenna.
Mr. Ince said "by adding solar to their homes, Nova Scotian families can cut their energy bills today, while having more energy choices and more control over their energy future ... Our province continues to be a national leader in fighting climate change, and this new program will build on our successes for the economic and environmental benefit of all Nova Scotians."
According to Natural Resources Canada about half of the average Canadian home's electricity needs could be met by installing solar panels. The latest available data from 2016 shows that the total electricity produced by these installations was 2, 662 Megawatts, up 6% from the previous year.
On a world scale however, Canada could do better. It ranks very low in terms of installed solar power behind China, Japan, Germany, United States and Italy. This government program should give Canada a boost as well as contribute toward the Nova Scotia government commitment to have 40% of their electricity produced by renewables by 2020.
Under the program, homeowners will receive a $1 per watt rebate, or roughly 30 per cent of the installation cost of a solar electricity system. The average savings will be about $7,000 and the maximum rebate will be $10,000.
Dartmouth-based solar installation company Thermo Dynamics is expanding their business to meet the growing demand this program hopes to create.
General Manager Paul Sajko said "it's a multi-million-dollar investment that will create dozens of jobs, but now is the right time to go for it."
Efficiency Nova Scotia must pre-approve all solar photovoltaic systems and their installers to meet the criteria for the program. Those interested can visit https://www.efficiencyns.ca/service/solarhomes/ starting in mid-August to apply.