A story that is becoming all too familiar is that of the local utility seeking to charge solar customers what amounts to a solar tax for their energy production. In a welcome ruling, the Nova Scotia government announced that it will protect solar homeowners and small businesses in the solar industry by stopping the proposed grid access charge.
The Province of Nova Scotia has committed to generating 80% of its electricity needs from renewable energy by 2030. But contrary to that commitment, Nova Scotia Power sought to charge solar customers about $8/kW of solar capacity beginning this month. If put into effect, that charge would amount to about $960 a year for a typical 10kW net-metered installation, essentially doubling the payback period for solar customers who currently take in about $1,800 in annual savings.
Premier Tim Houston sent a letter notifying the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board (NSUARB) of the government’s plans today, February 2.
“We agree that it is time for changes to the enhanced net-metering program but the changes we seek will support the greening of the grid, not discourage it,” said Premier Houston. “Our government will bring forward the necessary legislative and regulatory framework that will protect ratepayers and the solar industry in Nova Scotia and help achieve our environment and climate change reduction goals.
The charge proposed by Nova Scotia Power is not yet in place, and the Province will ensure that the charge will not take effect. The Province’s framework will be brought into force before the conclusion of the general rate application proceeding at the NSUARB.
“We have come too far in our fight against climate change and expanding access to renewable energy to risk that progress,” said Natural Resources and Renewables Minister Tory Rushton. “The changes we will bring forward will stop the proposed system access charge in its tracks today and provide certainty for our solar industry and rate-paying families investing in solar.”
The government is also bringing in further measures to grow the solar industry in Nova Scotia, with enhancements to the commercial and community solar programs. These enhancements will make solar power more accessible to everyone, including renters, small businesses, and marginalized communities. These changes will also allow for larger solar projects for communities, farms and businesses.
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