Wayne Groszko explains the financial case for a solar project.

The first round of Nova Scotia's Solar Electricity for Community Buildings Program is receiving its final applications up to the deadline of Friday, September 29, 2017 at 5:00 pm Atlantic Time.

This new program invites eligible community organizations to apply for a 20-year contract to sell solar electricity to their utility. Organizations bid in the price they want to receive for the solar energy, and all the proposals will be evaluated for lowest price, along with a few other criteria. Winning groups will have 24 months to construct their solar photovoltaic array and start selling clean solar power.

This is a unique opportunity in for community groups in Nova Scotia to become part of the clean energy transition at their buildings. Eligible groups are:

  • Mi'kmaq Bands
  • Municipalities
  • Universities and Colleges
  • Non-profit Organizations

If you missed this round, no problem. There will be two more rounds, with the next one coming in the spring/summer of 2018. By then you will know what the winning bid prices were from this round, so you'll go in better informed.

Here's an example financial breakdown of a potential project:

  • Project size: 50 kilowatts (this is the maximum - you can do a smaller project)
  • Approximate investment: $150,000
  • Annual electricity generation: 57,500 kWh/year  (approximate - this can vary +/- 15%)
  • Bid Price:  $0.30 / kilowatt-hour (kWh)  (This is your choice, but say you chose 30 cents.)
  • Annual gross revenue: $17,250
  • Internal rate of return: 11.5%
  • Simple payback time: 8.7 years

In reality, it's a little more complicated than that. You'll have some operating and maintenance costs, and your capital investment and electricity production may vary from this example. But it gives you an idea of the scale of this opportunity.

The tricky part, especially for a non-profit organization, will be figuring out how to finance the up-front capital. The program does not provide up-front money; it gives you the opportunity to earn revenue for a long time.

We're watching to see which projects will get the go-ahead, and what the winning bid prices will be. The selection is supposed to be completed by early December of 2017, so stay tuned!

Details of the program are with the Nova Scotia Department of Energy.