Nova Scotia

Existing solar customers in N.S. will still be able to get credit for excess power they produce

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

New solar customers will not receive credit for power once their bill reaches zero

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

Nova Scotians with existing solar arrays will continue to be allowed to receive credits for excess electricity they produce.

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."

Existing solar customers generate their own power from the sun and can also contribute any excess electricity they produce back to the grid. They can receive credits to offset their own costs when they draw power from the grid when they aren't able to generate their own solar power, such as after the sun sets. 

Tory Rushton is Nova Scotia's minister of natural resources and renewables. (Robert Short/CBC)

Rushton said it's only a small group of people who receive credits 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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