Sun rises on solar rebates

The beginning of summer marks the official launch of Energy Efficiency Alberta’s $36-million Residential and Commercial Solar Program.

Starting June 21, homeowners can receive up to 30 per cent off solar panel installation costs, to a maximum rebate of $10,000. Businesses and non-profit organizations are eligible for up to 25 per cent of system costs, to a maximum rebate of $500,000. Rebates are based on the size of the installation and calculated at $0.75 per watt.

“This solar program helps Albertans lower their utility bills and invest in their homes. Solar jobs are growing and the industry is putting Albertans back to work. Solar electricity puts the power in Albertans’ hands, making life more affordable while diversifying the economy and reducing carbon pollution.”

Shannon Phillips, Minister of Environment and Parks and Minister Responsible for the Climate Change Office

“We are introducing bold, new environmental sustainability initiatives across Canada in an effort to reduce our environmental impact. It was heartening to learn that Energy Efficiency Alberta and the Residential and Commercial Solar Program will be encouraging others to take action. This reinforces our efforts by allowing us to invest in technology that further reduces our carbon footprint.”

Peter Simons, CEO, Simons

“Solar uptake has doubled since 2015 and will only continue to grow as costs come down. This rebate program has been a missing piece in making the push toward solar and renewable generation in Alberta.”

Monica Curtis, CEO, Energy Efficiency Alberta

“This is an exciting day for solar in Alberta. This program will create good jobs in engineering, project management, manufacturing, sales, construction and more. It will also help Albertans reduce emissions, save on electricity costs and add value to their homes and businesses.”

David Vonesch, COO, SkyFire Energy

All applicants to the two-year program must own or have long-term rights to their property. Systems must also be designed and installed by qualified installers using CSA-approved panels and components or applicable certification to Canadian standards.

Once a system is installed, inspected and connected, Albertans will receive a direct deposit in 10 to 15 business days. Albertans wanting to ensure their project is eligible can apply directly at Energy Efficiency Alberta for pre-approval. Systems installed prior to April 15, 2017 are not eligible for a rebate.

Quick facts:

  • The Residential and Commercial Solar Program is expected to create roughly 50 megawatts of solar capacity and support the creation of 900 jobs in Alberta’s solar sector by 2019.
  • Without incentives, Alberta’s solar uptake is projected to grow from two megawatts to just 30 megawatts over the next five years. With this program, solar uptake is expected to quadruple each year – increasing to eight megawatts in 2017 and up to 140 megawatts by 2022.
  • An average Alberta household uses 7,200 kWh per year, which would be generated by a 5.5 kW system in Calgary or a 6.3 kW system in Edmonton.
    • A 5.5 kW system in Calgary would be eligible for a rebate of $4,100 on a solar PV system costing approximately $15,000-$17,000.
    • A 6.3 kW system in Edmonton would be eligible for a rebate of $4,700 on a solar PV system costing approximately $17,000-$19,000.

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Taking action to protect electricity consumers

Proposed legislation introduced today would cap electricity prices and protect the pocketbooks of Albertans.

If passed, An Act to Cap Regulated Electricity Rates would ensure Alberta families, farms and small businesses on the Regulated Rate Option would not pay more than 6.8 cents per kilowatt hour over a four-year period from June 1, 2017 to May 31, 2021. The Regulated Rate Option is the default electricity contract for the vast majority of Alberta consumers.

“With this bill, we’re following through on the promise we made last fall to protect Albertans from electricity price spikes. Volatility and uncertainty have been hallmarks of our electricity system for years. Electricity is a basic necessity and Albertans shouldn’t have to worry about their power bills spiking from one month to the next. This cap would help make life more affordable by ensuring Albertans aren’t burdened with price volatility as we transition to a cleaner electricity grid and a more stable electricity market.”

Margaret McCuaig-Boyd, Minister of Energy

While electricity rates are currently low, they have a history of being volatile. In the past six years, the Regulated Rate Option has:

  • been as high as 15.3 cents per kilowatt hour and as low as 2.7 cents
  • increased month-over-month by as much as 65 per cent, or $28 for the average residential bill
  • depending on the month, resulted in the average residential consumer paying as little as $20 for their electricity or as high as $90

During the four-year period the rate cap would be in effect, consumers on the Regulated Rate Option would pay the lower of the market rate or the government’s rate of 6.8 cents per kilowatt hour. The government will work to keep rates below 6.8 cents through a variety of market and other tools, including the transition to a capacity electricity market. Should rates rise above 6.8 cents, the rate cap would be automatically applied to the bills of consumers on the regulated rate.

Full details about how the legislation would be implemented, including how payments would be made should rates exceed 6.8 cents per kilowatt hour, will be outlined in regulations.

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