Existing solar customers in N.S. will still be able to sell excess power

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Nova Scotia Power customers with existing solar arrays will continue to be able to sell excess power to the grid. (Kayla Hounsell/CBC - image credit)
Nova Scotia Power customers with existing solar arrays will continue to be able to sell excess power to the grid. (Kayla Hounsell/CBC - image credit)

Nova Scotians with existing solar arrays will continue to be allowed to sell excess energy to the grid.

Among other things, amendments to the Electricity Act will allow customers of Nova Scotia Power who use solar power to get their electricity bills to zero without penalty, but they cannot be compensated for any energy produced beyond that.

However, during third reading of the bill on Wednesday, Natural Resources and Renewables Minister Tory Rushton told members of the legislature that his department would grandfather the right for existing solar customers.

"It was never the intent to take that away," Rushton said in an interview.

"It was well within the regulations and legislation when it took place so we really didn't want to penalize them any further."

Robert Short/CBC
Robert Short/CBC

Still, Rushton said it was never intended for the solar program to be a moneymaker for customers. He said it's only a small group of people who receive rebate cheques from Nova Scotia Power for the power they supply to the grid.

Chris Sheppard, who has a solar array at his home just outside Port Hawkesbury, said he is pleased existing solar customers have been given a reprieve, but he thinks the right should also be afforded to new solar users.

"I think it's unfair," he said.

"How do you justify the extra energy that you create, that Nova Scotia Power is getting and in turn selling, but the person who is making the power is not being paid for it?"

At a time when the government is looking to increase renewable energy sources and usage as it moves to get the province off coal by 2030, Sheppard said it is reasonable to compensate people who help make that happen.

"Basically, what they're turning net metering clients into is a non-profit organization," he said.

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