UPDATED on July 25
Nova Scotia residents will soon be eligible for rebates on photovoltaic (PV) installations of $1 per watt, an expansion of a program that already covers solar hot water and heating equipment.
Efficiency Nova Scotia, a nonprofit agency that oversees energy-savings programs for the maritime province in eastern Canada, announced that it would begin taking applications in mid-August. Rebates on pre-approved PV systems are expected to average C$7,000, and will be capped at C$10,000.
An announcement posted at the Efficiency Nova Scotia website said that both the PV system designs and the contractors who install them must be approved in advance. Most Nova Scotia homeowners are expected to qualify, although precise eligibility rules are still being worked out, a spokeswoman said.
Money for the program is coming from Nova Scotia’s C$56 million share of the Low Carbon Economy Leadership Fund. Canadian provinces and territories that have adopted the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change, what’s called “The Framework,” are eligible to share in the C$1.4 billion fund aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Efficiency Nova Scotia already offers residents a number of ways to reduce energy consumption, including home energy assessments, free LED light bulbs, low-flow shower heads, refrigerator and freezer recycling, and heating system upgrades. Existing rebates cover solar air-heating equipment and solar hot water systems.
The new program for PV will not cover commercial installations, said Janet Tobin, the communications lead for Efficiency Nova Scotia, in an email. But homeowners looking forward to subsidized PV are apparently tickled.
“We have been overwhelmed by the level of interest from both homeowners and potential installers,” Tobin said. “The SolarHomes incentives will make solar power more affordable than ever before. It is clear, based on the interest already, that Nova Scotians are excited to have more choices and more control over their energy future while reducing carbon emissions and improving air quality.”
Tobin said that Nova Scotia Power, which supplies 95% of the electricity used in the province, offers net metering to residents who already have installed PV. Generated electricity is counted as a credit equal to the cost of purchased electricity.
Efficiency Nova Scotia said rebates should roughly equal 30% of the cost of a PV system, making payments the same as the current federal tax credit for solar installations in the U.S. There is no cap on the U.S. program, but the tax credit is scheduled to drop beginning in 2020.
Programs vary by province
Rebates and other incentives for solar electricity vary widely across Canada’s 10 provinces and three territories. According to Tobin, both Alberta and New Brunswick currently offer rebates for solar electricity systems, although rules vary by province.
In Alberta, a year-old initiative makes homeowners eligible for as much as 30% of the cost of a PV installation to a cap of C$10,000, an article in the Edmonton Journal said. Business and non-profits are eligible for up to 25% of PV system costs to a maximum of C$500,000.
Energy Efficiency Alberta says at its website that in conjunction with two existing solar programs, the initiative has doubled solar installations in the province since 2015. At that time, Alberta led the nation with a total installed capacity of 8.16 megawatts, according to the website The Statistics Portal. Nova Scotia was fifth on the list at 0.77 megawatts.
In New Brunswick, customers of NB Power are eligible for rebates on solar panels ranging from $200 to $300 per kW, depending on what other energy upgrades they make to their homes. The Home Energy Savings Programrequires an energy evaluation, and houses must meet certain minimum requirements. Net metering also is available.
Elsewhere, Tobin said, Manitoba has a pilot program but is no longer accepting applications. A solar rebate program in Ontario was abruptly canceled last month by incoming Ontario Premier Doug Ford just two months after it was launched, PV Magazine reported. Rebates were set at C$1 per watt and covered systems up to 10 kilowatts in size.
This post was updated to correct information about solar rebates available in New Brunswick.