Complete Guide For Solar Power New Brunswick 2019
Congratulations! You’ve found the ultimate guide for going solar in New Brunswick!
New Brunswick is currently ranked the #8 province in the country. It has currently boasts a comprehensive energy incentive program while having moderate levels of sunlight.
This page contains all available information about installing solar in New Brunswick 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 New Brunswick as being Canada’s 8th best province for solar power in 2019. New Brunswick scores higher than many provinces due mostly to the Total Home Energy Savings Program offered by Énergie NB Power. New Brunswick also has modest levels of sunlight and high access to quality solar installers.
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 New Brunswick.
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 NB Power 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) / 1,142h
(where 1,142h equals the annual average equivalent of full sunlight hours in New Brunswick)
So let’s pretend you added up your power 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 8.76kW solar panel system!
10,000kWh / 1,142h = 8.76kW
Now that you know the size of your system, you’ll want to determine the best place to put it. Most residential homeowners in New Brunswick 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 the previous section).
The rough calculation is simple. Just take the size of your system and multiply it by the $3.27/Watt (the average cost of installing a solar system in New Brunswick). Using the example from the sizing section, we can see that a 8.76kW system would cost approximately $28,645 to install.
System cost = size needed x cost per installed watt
= 8,760Watts x $3.27/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 $4.00/Watt for premium equipment installed by the highest quality installers.
Major Program: Total Home Energy Savings Program
Savings On: Energy & Energy Efficiency Upgrades
New Brunswick does not have any incentives specific to solar, but it does have one of the most comprehensive energy incentive programs in the country. This section briefly covers the energy incentives available to homeowners. A more in-depth explanation of each can be found on the New Brunswick Incentives Page.
Some important things to keep in mind:
- Per Watt. The only solar rebates in the province are awarded based on the size of the system you install in units of Watts. Jump back up to the Sizing Section if you don’t understand what this means.
- 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
The Total Home Energy Savings Program (THESP) offered by Énergie NB Power is one of the most comprehensive energy incentive programs in all of Canada. The solar portion of the program is a rebate that ranges from $0.20/Watt to $0.30/Watt depending on the number of energy upgrades you perform.
Here is what the savings would look like if we used the same size system from the sizing section:
(8,760 watts) x ($0.30/watt) = $2,628
The average New Brunswick homeowner can offset their power consumption with a 8.76kW system (8,760 Watts) which will come with a rebate of $2,628.
Other Energy Incentives
The THESP also offers rebates for a variety of home energy upgrades including insulation, heating and recovery equipment, windows & doors, air sealing and more.
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: 1142kWh/kW/yr
Average Energy Use: 17.7MWh/yr
In terms of available natural resources and homeowner energy demand, New Brunswick is one of the best provinces in the country to install solar. This section briefly covers the amount of sunlight that New Brunswick receives (solar irradiation) as well as energy demand from homeowners.
New Brunswick has the sixth-highest potential to produce solar energy in all of Canada, receiving more solar irradiation than most other provinces and territories!
According to data from National Resources Canada, the average solar system in New Brunswick can produce 1142kWh 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 New Brunswick:
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 Moncton would produce about 1,144 kWh/yr
- A 1kW solar system in Saint John would produce about 1,133 kWh/yr
- A 1kW solar system in Fredericton would produce about 1,147 kWh/yr
- A 1kW solar system in Dieppe would produce about 1,144 kWh/yr
- A 1kW solar system in Riverview would produce 1,141 kWh/yr
Total Energy Demand
According to the Canada Energy Regulator, the New Brunswick uses approximately 17.7MWh of electricity per person, per year (including industrial and transportation demand)! And although only a small portion of this is used within the household, the number still demonstrates a strong need for energy generation and energy efficiency technologies.
In sum, the energy generated from an average-sized solar system can produce enough energy to offset your home’s yearly energy usage
Variable Costs: $0.11/kWh
Fixed Costs: $22/mo
Setup Fees: Interconnection Study
Key Policy: Met Metering
Unfortunately, the factors related to the utility are mainly prohibitory when it comes to installing solar. This section covers how the costs of electricity as well as solar setup fees affect of the feasibility of solar in New Brunswick.
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 power bill that goes to zero when you don’t use any energy. Thus the relatively low rates in New Brunswick ($0.11/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 – $22/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 is 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.
Énergie NB Power Net Metering Policies allow for systems up to 100kW in size to be connected to the grid for net metering, however it’s very important to note that credits in New Brunswick expire yearly in March, thus you’ll want to work closely with your installer to make sure your system perfectly matches your energy usage.
Solar Setup Fees
Énergie NB Power’s Distributed Generation Program Package indicates that NB homeowners must pay a $500 interconnection study fee when connecting a solar system to the grid for net metering. This is opposed to other places like Alberta and the Yukon Territory where such costs are covered by the utility.
Access To Solar
Upfront Cost: $3.27/Watt
Financing: Energy Loan
Installer Access: High
A completely new section to this year’s New Brunswick 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 New Brunswick range from $2.89-$3.64 with the average price being somewhere around $3.27.
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 New Brunswick.
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 mortgage (for new builds), or through energy loans.
Several options exist for New Brunswick homeowners:
- NBTA Credit Union (energy loan)
- As low as prime +1%
- NBTA Credit Union contact number: 1-800-565-5626
- 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 New Brunswick solar guide is the access to reputable and high quality solar installers. And fortunately, Brunswick has no shortage of them.
Solar Power New Brunswick: Summary
New Brunswick has great energy incentive programs, decent access to energy financing and installers, however we still rank it as being the #8 province in the country for switching to solar power.
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