Community Solar Garden Pilot

 

 

COMMUNITY SOLAR GARDEN: ACCESSIBLE SOLAR POWER FOR NOVA SCOTIANS


Smart Grid Nova Scotia is a pilot program dedicated to discovering innovative ways that customers can share in the benefit of clean energy. We’re learning how community solar can contribute to a greener Nova Scotia, and this program allows customers to join us in that journey. 

We know our customers want a cleaner, greener future - and so do we. We're working towards 60% renewable energy by 2022 and 80% by 2030. Solar is a great way to add more renewable energy to the grid, contributing to a greener future for the province. But not everyone is able to install solar panels on their own home or business. A solar garden is a simple way for all Nova Scotians to have access to solar energy, without having to install their own panels. When customers subscribe to the solar garden, they’re helping generate more clean energy that gets distributed across the grid, and they benefit by saving money on energy costs. 


Introducing our first community solar garden

A solar garden is a large collection of many solar panels, mounted on the ground in one central place. Because they’re all in one location, there are efficiencies associated with the construction and operation of the site.

Our first solar garden is located in Amherst, Nova Scotia. When complete, the garden will be connected to our electricity grid and will increase our overall renewable energy generation. The solar garden will produce about 2700 MWh of electricity per year—that’s enough to power about 240 homes or 700 battery-powered electric vehicles. You do not need to live close to the solar garden to benefit—any customer can subscribe.

Benefits


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Green Energy

It allows us to generate more clean energy that will be distributed across the grid.
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Affordable

No up-front costs or financing, since you won’t have to purchase and install the panels. And, with no hardware involved, there are no maintenance costs.
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Accessible

It’s accessible for all customers—even those who wouldn’t be able to install solar panels, like customers living in apartments, condos or in a shaded location.
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Credits added to your bill

You’ll save money on your energy costs—program participants get a credit on their bill for the power generated by their share of the solar garden.

 

 

HOW IT WORKS


Our solar garden will generate clean energy every day, that will be distributed across the grid. As a participant in the program, you can choose how much of your personal electricity consumption you’d like to get from the sun. Whatever the percentage, the choice is yours. For the average home, about 7-10kW will cover 100%.

Based on that amount, you’ll pay a fixed monthly subscription charge for the solar. From day 1 you’ll start generating credits on your bill for the amount of solar energy produced from your subscription.

The fixed monthly subscription charge is $6.86 per subscribed kW of solar. For example, if you subscribe to 10kW, your subscription charge would be $68.60.

The value of the solar credit you’ll receive begins at 5.493c/kWh in 2021, but will increase by 2% per year. Over time, your solar credit will become greater than your subscription charge, saving you money every month. Visit the savings calculator to see how community solar can work for you.

The total solar credit generated will vary based on the amount of sunny weather—in the summer when the days are longer, you can expect a higher solar credit compared to the winter months.

 

 

 

 

SUBSCRIBE NOW


If you’re interested in taking part in the community solar garden program, subscribe now.

We’ll review your application and send you a subscription offer by email summarizing the amount of solar energy you'd like to receive, your monthly charge, and estimated credits. You'll have 5 days to confirm your subscription. Once you're officially enrolled, you'll receive a welcome email with additional information, and you'll begin to see the charge and credit on your power bill. There's no long-term contract, and you can cancel at any time.

 Please note, there are limited spots available in the program. Once fully subscribed, new applicants will be adding to our waiting list. As soon as more solar energy becomes available, we'll contact you to confirm your subscription.

 

 



 

 

Frequently Asked Questions


What is a Community Solar Garden?

A solar garden is a large collection of solar panels in one location. Our Community Solar Garden in Amherst is made up of 4,550 panels. It can help you save money as you don't have to worry about the upfront cost of solar panels or installing and maintaining them. It's also more accessible as you don't have to own a home or install rooftop panels - you can take part if you live in an apartment or condo. Subscribing customers play a role in our transition to cleaner energy.

Where is the solar garden located?

The community solar garden is in the industrial park in Amherst, Nova Scotia.

Do I have to live in Amherst to apply?

All NS Power customers can apply. Eligible customers in Amherst will be accepted first, with remaining spaced being filled by customers from the rest of the province. 

How do I sign up?

You can apply for a subscription by filling out the form on this page.

How much of my electricity bill can be offset with solar energy?

You can apply to offset up to 100% of your annual electricity consumption with solar energy, up to a maximum of 100 kW. For the average home, 7 - 10 kW will cover 100%.

We're working towards 60% renewable energy by 2022 and 80% by 2030. That means when you plug in your appliances, heat your home using electricity, or switch to an electric vehicle, you're plugging into a grid that's getting greener over time. The community solar garden gives customers an opportunity to offset the remaining portion of their energy use with clean energy generated from the solar garden.

How much will it cost?

The subscription fee, called the Monthly Solar Capacity Charge, is $6.86 per kilowatt (kW) of solar.

The cost will be offset by a monthly credit, called the Solar Energy Credit, which is based on your share of power produced. A customer is credited at a rate of 5.603 cents/kWh of solar energy generated (in 2022, rising by 2% per year).

For example:

If your average monthly bill is $100, with 100% solar offset, the subscription would be 4 kW. Therefore, your monthly charge would be $27.44 (4 kW x $6.86), or $329.28 annually.

A subscription this size is estimated to generate 5,514 kWh in 2022, worth $308.96 (5,514 kWh x $0.05603/kWh). Your net costs in the first year would be approximately $20, averaging $1.66 a month.

Long term subscribers will begin to see net savings anticipated in year 6 and cumulative savings in year 9.

The credit always depends on the amount of solar energy generated and will vary each month. Use our community solar calculator to help you see the range of potential benefits of the program.

Credits are estimated and not guaranteed.

What does a subscription look like on a power bill?

The solar subscription fee (called the Monthly Solar Capacity Charge) will be added to your regular power bill. Community solar charges and credits (called the Solar Energy Credit) will be added under the miscellaneous charges section and are subject to HST. 

Why does the total amount of monthly credits change every month?

The Solar Energy Credit is based on the actual energy generated from the sun, so it will vary based on the season and the weather. The value of the credit (5.603 cents/kWh in 2022) will remain the same through the year, rising each year by 2% each January 1.

Why is the monthly credit higher in the summer?

As daylight hours are longer in the summer, the Community Solar Garden will be able to generate more electricity, resulting in a greater credit in the summer.

How will this work if I am an equal billing customer?

You will continue to have equal billing amounts for your regular utility service, however the solar energy credit will fluctuate based on the season and how much energy the Community Solar Garden is producing. Therefore, you will see some variability in your monthly bill. 

Will everyone be approved? What is the criteria for approval?

Enhanced Net Metering customers are not eligible to subscribe to this program. If you become a net metered customer after subscribing to the Community Solar Garden your subscription will be cancelled.  

Customers who consume over 10,000 MWh/year are not eligible to subscribe. 

How will I know if I’ve been approved?

Once you are approved for the program, you will be sent a confirmation email with the details of your subscription size, monthly payment, and estimated credits. You must click on the link to confirm your subscription within 5 days. You will get a reminder email at day 3 if you have not responded. Once you complete this step you will get an email welcome package. 

What happens if it sells out? How will I know when the pilot is full?

If the pilot if filled when you apply you will receive an email advising that you are on the waitlist. As space becomes available a representative will reach out to the waitlist to confirm if you are still interested in joining the program. 

What is the commitment once I sign up? Can I cancel my subscription?

There is no long-term commitment. You can contact the Smart Grid team to cancel at any time (smartgrid@nspower.ca).  

Subscribing to service from the Community Solar Garden is voluntary. 

How do I change or cancel my subscription?

Contact the Smart Grid team at smartgrid@nspower.ca or 902-428-6236 to modify or cancel your subscription.  

What happens if I move?

Your subscription can move with you as long as you remain a customer. If you cancel utility service at any time, for any reason, the subscription will be cancelled and you will be subject to any waitlist that may exist upon reapplication.  

 

 

Contact Us

Have more questions about our Community Solar Garden Pilot or our Smart Grid Nova Scotia program? Contact the team at smartgrid@nspower.ca or phone 902-428-6236.