After a multi-year hiatus that saw Manitoba’s solar industry cool off, a provincial incentive program has returned, offering homeowners and businesses a chance to “go green” with solar energy at more affordable rates — be it they’re connected to Manitoba Hydro’s energy grid.
Run by Efficiency Manitoba — a provincial crown corporation dedicated to all things energy efficiency — the program offers $0.50 per watt of solar installed, up to a maximum of 10kW or $5,000 per home (whichever is less). Businesses can claim up to $25,000 in rebates, or 50kW at the same price of $0.50/watt.
Residential solar PV systems on single-detached and semi-detached homes, mobile homes, permanent foundations, and duplexes, triplexes, and fourplexes can take advantage of the solar rebate if installed on or after April 1st, 2022.
Commercial installations qualify for Manitoba Efficiency’s solar rebate if they have (or get) pre-approval from the crown corporation on or after August 18th, 2022.
The re-introduction of Manitoba’s solar incentive program comes four years after the end of a wildly successful pilot project that significantly boosted the province’s solar sector.
The pilot was initially introduced by Manitoba Hydro in 2016 but was left in the hands of Manitoba Efficiency — a brand new crown corporation — after it was shut down two years later in 2018. The utility was criticized for ending the pilot without indicating what might proceed afterwards, leaving Manitoba’s burgeoning solar sector in limbo.
Efficiency Manitoba later put out a statement saying that the crown corporation would need two years to research and coordinate with Manitoba Hydro, as a “solar PV [photovoltaic] program [would] have significant impacts on Manitoba Hydro staff workloads as well as the distribution system.”
The crown corporation also indicated a need for another two years to plan the logistics of a re-launched solar program — a time frame many believed failed to synergize with the successes of the 2016 pilot incentive.
“Rather than building on the successes of the [earlier] pilot project, [Efficiency Manitoba] is letting all of those gains go to waste,” said Justin Phillips, CEO of Sycamore Energy, back in 2019.
While it’s since been acknowledged that the pilot incentive — which provided customers with $1 per watt installed up to 200 kilowatts (roughly 25% of total project cost) — was likely too generous, the cancellation of the program altogether was regarded as a terrible mistake by industry.
The new Efficiency Manitoba rebates are more in line (both in structure and compensation amounts) with existing solar incentive frameworks, further begging the question as to why a 4-year “reset” was necessary.
While Manitoba Efficiency’s poor energy planning resulted in a significant contraction of the province’s solar market over the past four years, its new residential and commercial incentive program promises to renew solar growth at an encouraging speed.
Homeowners and businesses alike should quickly take advantage to reduce their monthly energy costs and reliance on fossil fuels while mitigating against future rate increases.