Complete Guide For Solar Power Manitoba 2019
Congratulations! You’ve found the ultimate guide for going solar in Manitoba!
Manitoba is currently tied as the #10 province in the country for installing a solar power system, but scores as one of the best provinces for sunlight levels, financing options, and installation costs.
This page contains all available information about installing solar in Manitoba including solar incentives, regional geography, electrical utilities, and access to solar, as of 2019.
You can read from top to bottom, or skip to your preferred section by clicking on it below:
Overall Solar Rating
We’ve ranked Manitoba as being Canada’s 10th best province for solar power in 2019. Manitoba scores low on some factors like incentives and electricity costs, but scores high due to energy financing options, relatively low costs of installations, and for being the third sunniest province in the country.
Curious to see how and why we rank the provinces the way we do? Check out the Solar Rankings Page to find out more.
Basic System Information
When thinking about solar power, the first questions that often come to a person’s mind are:
- “How big does my solar system need to be?”
- “Can I completely offset my electricity usage?”
- “How much will it cost?”
This section is intended to answer these basic questions before going into the details about installing solar in Manitoba.
Sizing Your System
Determining the size of system you need is as simple as knowing how much energy you use during the course of a year. Your monthly Manitoba Hydro Bill will show your usage (in kWh) similar to the photo below:
You’ll need to figure out how much energy you use in a year by adding up the amount shown for 12 consecutive months. Note that taking one month and multiplying by 12 won’t work because energy use fluctuates depending on the season.
After you know how much energy you use, you can easily calculate the size of the solar power system that you’ll need by using the following equation:
Size of system needed (in kW) = yearly energy use (in kWh) / 1,272h
(where 1,272h equals the annual average equivalent of full sunlight hours in Manitoba)
So let’s pretend you added up your hydro bills and determined that you use 10,000kWh over the course of a year, you would then do the above calculation and determine that you need a 7.86kW solar panel system!
10,000kWh / 1,272h = 7.86kW
Now that you know the size of your system, you’ll want to determine the best place to put it. Most residential homeowners in Manitoba put the solar panels on their roof, while most rural homeowners put them on the roof of their house, shop, or on the ground in their yard.
If you’re putting solar panels on your roof, you should know:
- A south facing roof is best, east and west facing are good, north facing is just OK
- Output on panels are guaranteed for 25 years, so you may need to replace your shingles (or entire roof) before installing
- If you’re concerned about snow, know that roof mounted panels are harder to clean off
- Your roof’s pitch (slope) is not the most optimal angle for solar production
If you’re putting solar panels on the ground, you should know:
- These systems are more expensive upfront due to piling requirements, mounting materials, and power line trenching…
- … But are cheaper in the long term because they are more efficient (see next point)
- They can be easily placed to avoid shading, to the optimal direction (south), and to the optimal angle (~45°)
- Systems can be much larger than roof mounted ones
Cost of Installation
The last piece of basic information that you’ll want to know is an approximation of how much your system will cost. To calculate this you’ll need to know the size of the system you plan to install (see previous section).
The rough calculation is simple. Just take the size of your system and multiply it by the $2.88/Watt (the average cost of installing a solar system in Manitoba). Using the example from the sizing section, we can see that a 7.86kW system would cost approximately $22,637 to install.
System cost = size needed x cost per installed watt
= 7,860Watts x $2.88/Watt
Please note that the exact price of the system depends on several factors including the system size, the quality of equipment used, and the complexity of the job. Even the range in the chart above is just for the average – installation prices can easily go as high as $3.50/Watt for premium equipment installed by the highest quality installers.
Major Program: Manitoba Hydro
Savings On: Efficiency Upgrades
Manitoba doesn’t currently have any solar rebates, however it does have energy efficiency incentives available though Manitoba Hydro. This section briefly covers the energy incentives available to homeowners, a more in-depth explanation of each can be found on the Manitoba Incentives Page.
One important thing to keep in mind:
- Application. Rebate applications, including all paperwork, should be handled entirely by your installation company. We’ve vetted our installation partners to ensure they are capable of doing this for you.
Solar Rebates & Tax Credits
Unfortunately, the Manitoba Hydro Solar Rebate Program came to an end this past year, putting an end to the $1.00/Watt cash rebate. Although we are not expecting this program to renew anytime soon, we will post updates in this section as they come forward.
Other Energy Incentives
Manitoba does have a number of other energy incentives available to homeowners:
- Manitoba Hydro Savings & Rebates
- For all Manitoba Hydro customers
- Various incentives for energy and energy efficiency upgrades
- Indigenous Communities and Energy Efficiency Program
- For Indigenous residents
- Free access to an energy specialist and installation of energy efficiency home upgrades
- Affordable Energy Program
- For low income residents
- Free and low cost home energy upgrades
- Energy & Water Saver Program
- For all Manitoba Hydro customers
- Free high-efficiency low-flow plumbing devices
Businesses can now use the Federal Tax Provision for Clean Energy Equipment to fully expense their solar system. This means a CCA rate of 100% and the abolishment of the first year rule.
Remember, energyhub.org also has a special solar incentive. It’s not huge, but it’s easy to claim – just send us a picture of your installation or purchase agreement with one of our certified energy installers. Full details on the energyhub.org Cash Incentive Page.
Production Efficiency: 1272kWh/kW/yr
Average Energy Use: 106GJ/yr
In terms of available natural resources and homeowner energy demand, Manitoba is one of the best provinces in the country to install solar. This section briefly covers the amount of sunlight that Manitoba receives (solar irradiation) as well as energy demand from homeowners.
According to data from National Resources Canada, the average solar system in Manitoba can produce 1272kWh of electricity per kW of solar panels per year.
Here is how much an average solar system can produce each month, as well as the solar irradiation potential map for Manitoba:
This yearly average decreases as you move north and west in the province and increases as you move south and east. For example:
- A 1kW solar system in Winnipeg would produce about 1,281 kWh/yr
- A 1kW solar system in St. Claude would produce about 1,309 kWh/yr
- A 1kW solar system in Selkirk would produce about 1,267 kWh/yr
- A 1kW solar system in Dauphin would produce about 1,303 kWh/yr
- A 1kW solar system in The Pas would produce 1,202 kWh/yr
Total Energy Demand
The average household in Manitoba uses 106GJ of energy per year – that’s the equivalent of 29,400 kWh of electricity! And although most homes only use about a third of that (because of gas heating), the number still demonstrates a strong need for energy generation and energy efficiency technologies.
In sum, at least for the average homeowner, it is completely possible to offset one’s yearly hydro bill with a solar system system.
Variable Costs: $0.09/kWh
Fixed Costs: $17/mo
Setup Fees: $1000+
Unfortunately, Manitoba Hydro makes Manitoba the worst province in the country for solar when it comes to utility related factors. This section covers how the costs of electricity as well as solar setup fees affect of the feasibility of solar in Manitoba.
Variable Electricity Costs
Variable electricity rates determine the maximal amount of money that can be saved by switching to solar – ie. they represent the portion of your hydro bill that goes to zero when you don’t use any energy. Thus the relatively low rates in Manitoba ($0.09/Watt) means that the average homeowner will save only a moderate amount of money.
Fixed Electricity Costs
On the other hand, fixed electricity costs are not so good because they don’t disappear even if you switch to solar power – you’ll pay them as long as you remain connected to the grid. However, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing – $17/mo is a small price to pay for using the grid as your energy back-up and virtual energy storage device!
The only way to completely remove your fixed costs are to go off the grid, something most homeowners don’t do due to the large price and maintenance costs of battery storage. Plus, disconnecting from the grid means you won’t be able to participate in a net metering program.
Net Metering Policy
Net Metering is one of the most important policy mechanisms that makes solar a feasible energy generation option. Net Metering essentially means that you can send the excess energy that you produce (during the day the summer) back to the electricity grid and earn credits for that energy at the same retail rate that you buy it for.
These credits can then be used to offset your energy usage during times when your solar system doesn’t produce as much energy as is needed (during the night and winter). Without this mechanism, you would need to purchase an extremely costly set of batteries.
While we originally interpreted Manitoba Hydro’s Electricity Generation Policies as a net metering program, we recently receive an email from the Solar Energy Program Team at Manitoba who explained that they do not!
It seems that you can still connect your solar system to the grid, however you will get paid just $0.0325 for the energy you produce, 1/3 of the retail rate! A very bad deal for Manitoba homeowners.
Solar Setup Fees
Connecting your system to the grid is another hurdle that Manitoba Hydro currently makes you pay for – this means paying ~$1,000 for an interconnection study and a bi-directional when you switch to solar power. This is opposed to many provinces like British Columbia and Prince Edward Island where the costs of such things are free.
Access To Solar
Upfront Cost: $2.88/Watt
Financing: Energy Loan
Installer Access: High
A completely new section to this year’s Manitoba solar guide, Access to Solar explores the major accessibility factors in the province.
Cost of Installation
The upfront cost of installation is obviously one of the largest factors that determines whether or not a person is going to switch to solar. The current prices in Manitoba range from $2.50-$3.50 with the average price being somewhere around $2.88.
The price changes depending on a variety of factors:
- The size of system required (larger systems are cheaper on a per Watt basis)
- The complexity and/or specific requirements of the job
- The type and quality of equipment used
- The quality of the installation company
Remember, you can easily calculate the total estimated cost of your system in the Basics Section at the top of this page.
In general, aiming for the cheapest price shouldn’t be your goal. Remember that the energy output on solar equipment is guaranteed for 25 years, so you want to make sure that your installation job is good enough to support that. You’ll also want to be sure that the company you choose will be around in 5 to 10 years from now in case you need service or warranty work done.
Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) is an innovative financing option that allows you to cover the entire upfront cost of your solar system (or energy efficiency upgrades) with a $0 down, long amortization period, low interest ‘loan’.
However, unlike a typical loan, this loan is attached to your property (not you) and is paid back alongside your property tax bill as a Local Improvement Charge (LIC). The only eligibility is that you need to own a certain percentage of your home.
Unfortunately, no PACE financing is currently available in Manitoba.
Other Financing Options
Obviously though, PACE is not the only way to finance a solar system. Systems can be financed by cash, bank loans, installer financing, home equity loans, a home equity line of credit, a mortgages (for new builds), or through energy loans.
Several options exists for Manitoba homeowners:
- Residential Earth Power Loan (energy loan)
- Interest rate at 4.9%
- Up to 15 years amortization
- Manitoba Hydro contact number: 1-888-624-9376
- PAYS Financing
- Interest rate at 4.9%
- Up to 25 years amortization
- Manitoba Hydro contact number: 1-888-624-9376
- RBC Energy Saver Loan (energy loan)
- Up to 10 years amortization
- RBC contact number: 1-800-769-2511
- TD Bank (various options)
- TD contact number: 1-866-389-8888
- CMHC Mortgage Loan Premium Rebate
Access to Installers
The final category that we ranked for this year’s Manitoba solar guide is the access to reputable and high quality solar installers. And fortunately, Manitoba has no shortage of them.
Solar Power Manitoba: Summary
Manitoba has abundant solar financing options, high sunlight levels, and relatively low installation costs, however we still rank it as being tied as the #10 province in the country for switching to solar power.
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