Solar Colchester is a new municipal program that allows eligible property owners in Colchester to install photovoltaic solar panels with financing assistance from the Municipality. Solar PV panels harvest clean energy from sunlight, which can save you money on your power bill and reduce your carbon footprint. Participants can pay for the project at an attractive interest rate over 10 years.
The program is available to homes with a single, owner-occupied dwelling unit and up to one rental unit, as well as certain non-profit institutions. See Eligibility under the FAQs tab for more information.
The Municipality has contracted Supernova Energy Solutions to oversee installations in the first phase of the program. Supernova is a reputable solar PV installer that will design, supply, and install all projects funded through Solar Colchester.
Residential applicants are eligible for the Efficiency Nova Scotia SolarHomes rebate, which can cover $0.85/watt up to $8,500. The average residential solar array generates about 7 kilowatts (7,000 watts). Once you have applied to the Solar Colchester program, the solar contractor will apply the rebate on your behalf.
Step 1 - Application
• To start the process, complete the Solar Colchester online application form (under the Apply Today! tab), or drop into the office at 1 Church Street, Truro, to fill out an application in person.
Applications will be considered on a first come first served basis. You will receive a confirmation of receipt once your application has been received.
• The solar contractor will contact you to request any additional information, then the contractor will evaluate the suitability of your property.
Step 2 – Cost Estimate
• The solar contractor will prepare a cost estimate for your project, including a breakdown of the costs, a payback calculation, and specifications for the products that will be installed. Your quote will also indicate how much funding you are eligible for from Efficiency Nova Scotia’s SolarHomes rebate program.
• If you are satisfied with the quote, you can sign it to create a contract between you and the contractor.
Step 3 – Deposit and Participant Agreement
• All participants moving into the installation step must sign a Participant Agreement, which is a legal agreement signed by both the property owner and the Municipality. The Participant Agreement sets out the terms of the loan.
• There is a $1,000 deposit required from program participants when you sign the Participant Agreement to ensure that you are serious about following through with the project. The deposit will be subtracted from your first payment or from the total cost of the project.
Step 4 – Installation
• The solar contractor will install solar panels on your home or building, as per the design and cost estimate.
• When the installation is complete, the solar contractor will submit a Certificate of Completion and invoice to the Municipality. The Municipality pays the invoice and levies a Solar Energy Improvement Charge against your property.
Step 5 – Annual Payments
• Once a year, you will be billed for the Solar Energy Improvement Charge, including any interest accrued up to that date. You can pay the Charge in the same manner as taxes.
• The fixed interest rate for your project will be determined at the time you pay the deposit and will be calculated using the current Prime lending rate plus 0.75%. For more information on the interest rate and payments, see Money Talk under the FAQs tab.
Solar photovoltaic panels convert sunlight, or solar radiation, directly into electricity. Solar PV panels are made of PV cells that contain a semi-conducting material, usually silicon. The semi-conductor absorbs the light energy, which frees electrons in the material, creating an electric current (DC). An inverter is then used to convert the current to usable electricity for your house (AC).
Solar PV is a greener alternative to other conventional forms of electricity generation, such as the combustion of coal, petroleum, or natural gas. The combustion of these fossil fuels releases emissions in the form of greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4). Greenhouse gases linger for a long time in the atmosphere, preventing heat, both solar and geothermal, from escaping into space. This is called the greenhouse effect. The greenhouse effect is a natural occurrence that keeps the earth at a habitable temperature; however, significant increases in greenhouse gas emissions over that last 150 have enhanced the greenhouse effect, raising the temperature of the planet.
To apply, please fill out the application at this link and hit submit.
You can also apply in person at 1 Church St., Truro NS, B2N 3Z5, in the Community Development department.
PLEASE NOTE that we have filled all our spots for municipal financing for 2019. All additional applications accepted will be deferred to another year. If you are not interested in municipal financing but would like to take advantage of all the other benefits of Solar Colchester, please apply and your project can be installed in 2019.
Also note that the rebate available from Efficiency Nova Scotia may decrease in 2020. If you would like to take advantage of the current rebate ($0.85/watt), you may wish to seek financing elsewhere. You will still be eligible for the other benefits of Solar Colchester.
If you have any questions about the application, please call Joanna at (902) 897-3170.
Frequently Asked Questions
ABOUT THE PROGRAM
How does the program work?
Participants in the Solar Colchester program will be able to have solar PV panels installed on their properties at no upfront cost, aside from a $1,000 deposit. The Municipality will pay for the installation initially, and the property owner will make annual payments on the system over ten years at a low interest rate. Click on the tab “Program Steps” for more information on the application process.
How can I register?
Fill out the application form in the “Apply today!” tab. You will be contacted by our solar contractor, who will ask you for more information about your property, set up a free property suitability evaluation, and, if eligible, give you a quote for installation.
Can I participate in the program but not receive a loan from the Municipality?
Yes. Participants have the option to pay the full cost of the installation up front. Additionally, if you opt for financing, you can always pay it off in a lump sum at any time.
How does the program differ for institutional applicants?
Some institutions, such as places of worship, non-profits, and co-ops are eligible for the program. Institutional buildings are not eligible for the Efficiency NS SolarHomes program and must pay upfront for any costs above the $20,000 available from the Municipality.
Who can I contact for more information?
For questions about solar PV, your property’s suitability, or installation, contact Supernova Energy Solutions at 1-902-233-5624.
Is my property eligible?
The following property types are eligible for the program:
i. an owner-occupied residential building with no more than one rental unit,
ii. an institutional building dedicated to religious worship, including auxiliary buildings such as an auditorium, hall, or day nursery owned and operated by the religious institution,
iii. a building that houses a charity, a co-op, or a non-profit as its main use.
Is my roof in good enough condition?
Because the lifespan of solar PV panels is 25+ years, it is best to install them on a new or newly replaced roof, as the panels would have to be removed to replace the roof in the future.
The solar contractor will also evaluate the suitability of your roof during the property suitability evaluation.
Can I put the solar panels on my garage instead of my house?
Yes. Solar panels can be installed on any building on your property, provided the roof is deemed fit by the solar contractor. Ground-mounted solar panels are also an option, although the cost may be higher than for roof-mounted panels.
What is the total cost of a solar PV installation?
A typical residential installation will cost between $25,000 and $30,000. Up to $8,500 is available from the Efficiency NS SolarHomes rebate ($0.85/kilowatt), and the Municipality will provide up to $20,000 in financing for each project.
The cost of an institutional installation will depend on the size of the project and the energy consumption of the building. Contact the solar contractor for more information: 1-902-233-5624.
Is there an application fee or upfront cost for the project?
While there is no application fee, confirmed participants are required to pay a $1,000 deposit at the time you sign a contract with the Municipality. The purpose of the deposit is to ensure that you are serious about following through with the project and to demonstrate that you are in a financial place to make the annual payments. The deposit will be subtracted from your first payment, or from the total project cost.
What interest rate is available to borrow money from the Municipality?
Solar Colchester participants can finance their projects at an interest rate of Prime + 0.75%. As of March 14, 2019, the Canada Prime Lending Rate was 3.95%. A participant’s interest rate will be determined based on the Prime rate at the time of signing the Participant Agreement, and will remain fixed for the duration of the 10 year loan.
How much money can I borrow from the Municipality?
The Municipality will contribute a maximum of $20,000 to any one project. This is enough to fully cover the cost of most residential projects, including tax, once the Efficiency Nova Scotia SolarHomes rebate has been added. Larger projects may require an additional upfront contribution from the applicant to cover the full cost.
How much will I pay for my solar panel installation?
Residential property owners must pay an upfront deposit of $1,000 and then repay the remaining cost of the project over 10 years, with interest. The project will cost up to $20,000, depending on the energy consumption of your home and the rebate available from Efficiency NS.
Can I still benefit from the Efficiency Nova Scotia SolarHomes rebate if I use this program?Yes. The solar contractor will apply to the SolarHomes program on behalf of all Solar Colchester Participants, and the rebate will be incorporated into your initial project quote.
When will my solar panels pay for themselves?The payback period for an installation depends on the cost of your project and your building’s electricity consumption patterns. When including the Efficiency NS SolarHomes rebate, residential solar PV panels will typically pay for themselves in 8-9 years. The system has a design life of 25 years.
What is the cost to the Municipality?
The program has no cost to the Municipality, as it is an investment which will be recouped over time. In the first year of the program, the Municipality is investing $300,000 in the project to support the installation of 15-20 projects. This money will be recovered with interest over the next ten years.
SOLAR PV TECHNOLOGY
What is solar photovoltaic?
Solar photovoltaic (PV) panels convert sunlight directly into electricity using semi-conducting materials. Sunlight, also called solar radiation, is a renewable energy which emits no greenhouse gases in the process of generating electricity.
What is the lifespan of a solar photovoltaic panel system?
The product warranty for photovoltaic panels is for 10 years. They have a design life and performance warranty of 25 years. Some panels will last even longer than that.
What are the benefits of solar energy?
Solar energy is renewable energy. It is not finite like oil, coal, or gas, and it does not need to be burned to be consumed, and therefore emits no greenhouse gases. Anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions are the primary cause of climate change and global warming. Solar panels absorb energy from the sun and convert it to usable electric energy.
Can I use my own electricity when the power goes out?
It is possible, but you will need to install a Smart Inverter that can isolate your system from the provincial energy grid, or install an energy storage system, such as lithium ion batteries. Energy storage can be expensive. Talk to our solar contractor for more information.
Who will be doing the installations?
Currently, all installations financed by Solar Colchester must be installed by Supernova Energy Solutions, our contracted solar installer. Other installers may be considered in the future, based on the success of the program and interest from local installers.
Do I need to install a special meter on my house?
Yes. The solar contractor will apply to Nova Scotia Power on your behalf to have a bi-directional meter installed on your home. Visit the following link for more information about NSP’s Enhanced Metering Program: https://www.nspower.ca/en/home/for-my-home/make-your-own-energy/enhanced-net-metering/default.aspx
I am a solar installer, how can I do work for this project?
While Supernova Energy Solutions has been contracted to install projects for the first phase of the program, the Municipality is eager to involve other local installers in the future if there is enough interest. Interested installers must be an approved Solar Installer on the Efficiency Trade Network. Visit the following link for more information: https://www.efficiencyns.ca/trade-network/about-the-network/