Home Solar in British Columbia:
Local installers, tax credits, and rebates.
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British Columbia is a populous coastal province in western Canada. As the country’s third most populated province, it is home to the city of Vancouver, the third largest metropolitan area in Canada, and the capital city of Victoria.
Although British Columbia’s provincial government policies do not favor solar rebates and incentives, there is no sales tax on solar systems. In addition to that, the province has great interconnection policies and rate designs, making it a favorable place for businesses and residents to invest in solar energy.
British Columbia provides solar energy tax breaks and a few incentives that help to reduce the overall cost of solar systems.
Just remember these items:
- Installation Qualifications
Your installation may need to meet certain qualifications to be eligible for rebates. One of these qualifications is that a qualified installer must install your system using CSA-approved electric equipment. Don’t worry—our partners are all qualified installers.
- Rebate Applications
We’ve screened our installation companies to make sure that they can and will handle all paperwork pertaining to rebates.
Rebates and Tax Breaks
The provincial sales tax (PST) exemption is the principal solar incentive in the province of British Columbia. Residential property owners do not have to pay sales tax on solar systems, solar thermal systems and any wiring, controllers, inverters, pumps, etc. needed for installation. The exemption has no limit but doesn’t apply to batteries.
If you had a 9.75 kW system that cost $25,000, your savings would look like this:
$25,000 x 7% = $1,750
That’s a significant amount of money!
Other Energy Incentives
Residents of British Columbia can also enjoy a $5,000 rebate on electric vehicle battery purchases.
There are local incentives available as well. The Regional District of Nanaimo offers a $250 to $650 rebate for solar hot water and solar systems. Many other areas offer local incentives. See cleanBC for specific information.
The Canadian federal government helps businesses to pay for their solar systems. It can abolish the first-year rule and achieve an accelerated Capital Cost Allowance (CCA) rate. For more information, visit the tax savings for industry portion of their website.
Utility policy factors determine what your utility provider pays you for the excess power you produce and what you save on your power bill by reducing electricity usage. British Columbia gets a high score for utility policies.
One important policy for solar customers is called Net Metering. Net Metering is a billing mechanism that allows solar customers to push electricity to the grid for credit that can be used later, like at night when your solar panels aren’t generating power. This incentivizes people to go solar, provides clean energy for others to use and prevents waste.
British Columbia’s Net Metering program is good. Credits can be carried over into the next month, and you can connect a system up to 100 kW in size. Unfortunately, credits can not be carried over into the next year.
Solar Setup Fees
You don’t need to pay additional fees for a bi-directional meter (necessary for Net Metering) or interconnection study in British Columbia. Other provinces carry fees of up to $1700 for this.
Electricity prices in British Columbia are on the low end. Usually you don’t want high prices, but with solar, the higher the prices, the more you save, and the more economical a solar system becomes. So British Columbia’s low prices are not an advantage.
The average total cost of electricity in British Columbia is $0.124 per kWh, including fixed and variable costs, and assuming a monthly usage of 1,000 kWh. Under similar assumptions, the Canadian national average for all provinces is $0.135 per kWh.
Rate designs are comprised of monthly fees and either a flat or tiered rate you pay for electricity. Good rate designs, which save you money when you conserve energy, are tiered and have low fixed monthly fees. Poor rate designs have flat rates and high fixed monthly fees.
British Columbia is well above average when it comes to the quality of its electricity bill rate design. It has tiered rates and low fixed fees (around $12 per month).
You still pay fixed monthly fees when you go solar because you are still tied to the grid. Being tied to the grid is a good thing, because otherwise you might not have power at night or if your system stopped working suddenly. Even if you go off of the grid and rely on a battery source, the high cost of the battery would not outweigh the low monthly fee and the savings obtained from a net billing program.
PACE stands for Property Assessed Clean Energy and is a financing program for solar projects that is tied to the home instead of the homeowner. The PACE program is not available in British Columbia.
The Penticton Home Energy Loan Program and the City of Nelson’s On-Bill Financing program allow residents of those cities to borrow towards home energy upgrades.
Other Energy Financing
Solar systems can be financed by bank loans, solar installer financing, new home mortgages, energy loans and home equity loans or lines of credit. Cash works too.
Talk to your EnergyPal Advisor about financing solar options in British Columbia. We regularly source the best deals and terms for customers.