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Manitoba not expected to get on board with solar energy

The NEB says solar panels won't become Manitoba's first choice for their source of energy.
The NEB says solar panels won't become Manitoba's first choice for their source of energy. Sara Cain, 900 CHML

A new report from the National Energy Board suggests that Manitobans won’t be going big on solar energy any time soon.

They NEB says the abundance of cheap hydroelectricity in Manitoba means solar power may never make much economic sense.

The board says provinces like Saskatchewan and Ontario are more likely to install solar panels.

The NEB is releasing a study of the costs of solar compared to current electricity prices on Wednesday.

READ MORE: Manitoba-U.S. hydro project step closer with NEB approval

The board’s website will let Canadians plug in their city’s name to find out whether solar electricity is economically friendly now or in the future.

The study looked at 20,000 communities across every province and territory, at both the capacity to produce solar based on hours of sunlight, as well as the cost.

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The main finding of the study is that no matter the amount of sunlight, the only places where using solar panels is already cheaper than paying for power from the electricity grids, are the places where power rates are already high.

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The NEB says solar power can sometimes cost more than twice as much as traditional power sources.

Manitoba’s hydro costs are among the lowest in the country, making the cost of solar for homeowners 176 per cent higher than hydro.

NEB says the average cost of a five-kilowatt solar installation is about $16,000, but that price is predicted to fall by as much as 30 per cent in the next five or 10 years.

READ MORE: NEB energy projections call for more clean power and more oil output by 2040

The board says the price of power in Manitoba is still so low that even once the cost of solar drops significantly, it is not expected to become competitive.

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