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SaskPower residential solar incentives likely to be revised sooner than expected

Minister responsible for SaskPower Dustin Duncan says the Crown corporation's net metering program is approaching its customer power generation cap sooner than anticipated. .
Minister responsible for SaskPower Dustin Duncan says the Crown corporation's net metering program is approaching its customer power generation cap sooner than anticipated. . Derek Putz/Global News

SaskPower’s program allowing customers with solar panels or other power generation means to earn bill credits will need to be modified again, sooner rather than later.

The net metering program tracks power produced and used by customers, and they earn credits on their bills that can lower out of pocket costs when they make less power.

The last update was announced in November 2018, switching contracts from two to 10 years and extending the program to a customer generation cap to 16 megawatts or Nov. 30, 2020 — whatever comes first.

READ MORE: SaskPower announces changes for customers generating their own power

Minister responsible for SaskPower Dustin Duncan said the former is approaching much sooner than anticipated.

“We’re certainly moving forward with more renewables in Saskatchewan, but there is a cost to those programs,” Duncan said.

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“Certainly, the net metering program that has a rebate attached to it, we’re going to have to look at how we’re moving forward with a program like that just because of the significant demand.”

On top of earning bill credits, net metering customers are eligible for a one time rebate for 20 per cent of the cost of installing solar panels, up to $20,000.

Duncan said the net metering program will likely hit its customer cap before the end of this fiscal year.

Customers currently in the net metering program won’t see a change because of their pre-existing contracts.

In the 2016-17 fiscal year, the program added 168 customers, bringing the total to 685 at the time.

As the cost of solar infrastructure has gone down the amount of people signing up has grown significantly.

The program added 896 customers in the 2018-19 fiscal year — 1,795 customers in total. Between April 1, 2019, and July 31, 403 new customers were added.

READ MORE: New SaskPower solar customers face delays in earning bill credits

Currently, SaskPower is delayed in adding new customers. They are out of necessary bi-directional power meters that track production and consumption. The Crown corporation says this is due to issues at the manufacturer level.

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On Sept. 3, a company spokesperson said there were 225 customers waiting for the meters that would add them to the net metering program. SaskPower expects to start receiving bi-directional meters again in the next couple of weeks.