August 14, 2019 4:29 pm
Updated: August 14, 2019 4:30 pm

Edmonton ups solar panel rebate to cover portion after province bows out

The roof of St. Richard School in Edmonton is fitted with solar panels on Nov. 28, 2018.

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Days ahead of Edmonton city councillors grappling with the city’s green program not being aggressive enough to reach its carbon emission targets, the city’s solar panel rebate program has been increased.

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Mike Mellross, the city’s supervisor of energy transition and supply, said the new civic rate will cover off a little less than half of what the combined city-provincial solar panel program provided.

READ MORE: More visible panels could be key to solar energy sell: Alberta researcher

The old combined rebate was $1.05 per watt. “That was 15 cents per watt from the City of Edmonton and 90 cents per watt from the province,” Mellross said.

“We realized that 15 cents per watt might be a little bit light to catalyze this kind of investment. So we did run some numbers on our side and we’ve since increased incentive level to 40 cents per watt.”

“A typical home uses about 6,000 kilowatt hours a year. So if you install a system that would cover that off, you would actually offset all of that electricity — and you would just be still paying the administration charge for being attached to the grid.”

READ MORE: Edmonton tech firm to turn windows into solar panels, gets financial boost to go commercial

Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson said in a news release that incentives help home owners to reduce their carbon footprint by moving to renewable energy sources, as prices drop for the hardware.

“Creating incentives for renewable energy sources like solar power is one of the most impactful ways of building a climate-resilient city while also creating jobs and diversifying Edmonton’s local economy,” he said.

Mellross quantified the estimates for the next four years forecasting the program will create upwards of 120 jobs, through $10 million in local investment.

“Once your system is installed and energized, you are eligible for a 40-cents-per watt rebate. Essentially that covers anywhere from 15 to 20 per cent of a typical residential install, upwards of $4,000 — the upper limit, which ever is reached first,” Mellross said.

READ MORE: Edmonton prefers province runs renewable energy home improvement program

A cap was placed, limiting new home builders to access the program five times a year. Mellrose said that’s to leave room in the program for existing homes.

Something that may surprise some people — Mellross says solar panels work best in the winter, even though daylight hours are limited.

“They’re more efficient in the winter. The colder the panel is, the more efficient the panel is.”

In all, Edmonton gets about 2,300 hours of sunshine annually, making it one of the sunniest cities in Canada.

City councillors will review Edmonton’s Community Energy Transition Strategy during Monday’s executive committee meeting, after learning the current program isn’t aggressive enough to meet the city’s emission targets.

Edmonton is due to hit its self-imposed carbon limit in the next eight years, unless more aggressive efforts are put in place to reduce emissions.

READ MORE: Edmonton to hit its self-imposed carbon limit within 8 years: report

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