We've all heard about how using solar panels can save people money on their power bills, but what we find online about how much you can actually save doesn't always match up with our situation here in Saskatoon.
It's true that using solar power is a fantastic way to save money on your power bills over the 30 to 40 year design-life of the solar power equipment, especially considering the fact that power prices in Saskatoon went from $0.13/kWh to $0.15/kWh from 2016 to 2017.
Let's take a closer look and answer the big question of "How much money can you save with solar in Saskatoon?"
What programs are available?
Residents of Saskatoon have advantages over much of Canada in that there are two great programs available through the city that make investing in solar panels more attractive: The Saskatoon Light & Power Net Metering program and the Small Power Producer program.
In addition to these two municipal programs, there is a provincial rebate program available through Saskpower that helps reduce up to 20% of the up-front cost of investing in a solar power system in Saskatoon until 2018. This could be a cheque from the government for up to $20,000.00
This article will help outline what parts of your bill will be lower when using solar panels in Saskatoon and how the two municipal programs help compensate residents for the power they produce.
Keep in mind that this article will focus on grid-tied solar power systems without batteries.
Understanding your bill
There are two main parts of your Saskatoon Light and Power electrical bill: The Service Charge, and the Electric Charge.
The Service Charge
This part of your bill is not based on how much power you use but is instead a simple daily rate.
The daily rate may change every few months but is usually very close to the same amount over the course of the year.
The service charge is not affected by using solar panels in Saskatoon and will always appear on your bill no matter how little power you use.
The Electric Charge
This portion of your Saskatoon Light and Power bill is based on how much power you have used within the billing period.
The billed amount changes each month based on how much power is used and the current billing rate per kWh for the electricity used.
This portion of your bill is where using solar panels in Saskatoon can really make an impact.
Let's see how the two municipal solar power programs can affect the Electric Charge.
How does the Net Metering plan work?
When you are under the Saskatoon Light and Power Net Metering program, the solar power you produce is first used up by the electric appliances in your home. Extra power is exported to the grid where it builds up a billing credit at the same billing rate as the power you use.
This credit is used to pay for your power when your solar panels aren't producing enough to match your needs, but the credit is reset each year at the end of March so you will want to size your system carefully to minimize wasted credit.
If your system is designed properly, the extra power your produce during times of more sun will match your power needs for the winter and nights.
This ability to build up billing credit allows your Electric Charge over the course of the year to average out to $0. Not a bad deal!
For the bill pictured above, the savings for the month would be $53.86 plus any applicable GST.
This program is best suited for people who want to save money by generating their own power but not sell bulk amounts of power to the grid.
The Small Power Producer plan
When you are using solar panels under the Small Power Producer program, instead of receiving a billing credit for extra power, you will be paid in cash for any extra power you export, although at a slightly lower rate than what you are normally billed at.
The selling rate for power produced with solar panels under the Small Power Producer program as of January 2017 is $0.108222 per kWh and increases by 2% each year (for now).
With a 100kW DC solar power system size limit, this plan is designed to allow people or groups to contribute to the power production network of the province and be paid a great price for the clean power they produce.
There is the potential to generate a significant amount of money over the lifetime of the solar power equipment using the small power producer program as shown in the chart below.
The above chart features the 40-year production value forecast of a system designed to maximize the 100kW DC capacity of the Small Power Producer program and takes advantage of the capital cost allowance federal tax deduction class 43.1/43.2 which may apply to businesses claiming their solar power installation as a depreciable asset. The forecast assumes a modest 2% per year increase in power prices year over year. Though we cannot guarantee it, it is our opinion your return will be significantly higher.
It is possible to size your system so that the money generated will offset your own power bills but if you are only looking to offset your own power needs, the Net Metering program would be a better option because the export rate is the same as the billing rate.
Adding it up
Using solar panels in Saskatoon for the small power producer program or the net metering program are great opportunities in their own ways.
The opportunity presented by these two programs hasn't been seen before in Saskatoon and the timing couldn't be better for you and your family. Power prices are set to rise fast but with solar panels installed under the Net Metering program, it really doesn't matter how high the prices go, you will be covered by your very own clean, low maintenance power producing equipment.
A system designed to cover your full year of power consumption in Saskatoon will save you 100% of the electrical rate over the course of the year.
If you are looking to make a reliable return on your very own, environmentally friendly investment then a larger system under the small power producer program should be at the top of your list. There truly isn't a more accessible, reliable way to earn a return on your investment in Saskatoon right now.
It's even possible to apply for both programs under two different meters and get the best of both worlds if you are looking to make the most impact.
These programs may not be around forever and we would truly enjoy helping you figure out what system size and program would be best for you so that you can take part in this unique opportunity.
To find out what your own net metering or small power producer system will do, contact us at 1-877-910-4164 or head to our contact page.