Solar power lights up Eastwood home

Government of Alberta offers a solar energy rebate

Eastwood homeowners Arinna Grittani and Giles Collings finally had the opportunity to switch to solar energy.

“Our other house didn’t have the right aspect,” recalled Grittani, who with her husband hired Great Canadian Solar to install 18 solar modules on their 2,000-square-foot home.

“Before now, we weren’t able to afford it, but with this incentive from the government, they’ve made it accessible now.”

The Alberta government’s solar energy rebate gives homeowners up to $10,000 for installing solar photovoltaic systems. The program, offered by Energy Efficiency Alberta, started in April 2017.

The couple’s system will produce about 6,000-kilowatt hours in a year, explained Andrew Lundell of Great Canadian Solar.

“There are 18 solar modules rated at 300-watts each . . . and nine microinverters, one for every two solar modules installed,” he continued.  

While the rebate is only for systems hooked into the provincial grid, it’s based on net metering. With some efficiencies and adjustments to household chores, they can expect to get all their electrical needs met outside the provincial supply.

“The system almost covers most of our uses, and with some further efficiency measures, we can come to complete coverage of our electrical use,” said Grittani.

So, if they generate 100-kilowatts of electricity and use it right away, the provincial power supply is not involved. But if they don’t use that power, it goes back into the provincial grid with added transmission costs.

“Then, when I do need those 100, I can use them. But I don’t save on transmission costs,” explained Grittani.

To get the best value, they will use high-efficiency appliances for things like baking on a sunny day when the solar panels are at their optimum.

On top of the rebate, which saved them about $5,000, they had electrical work done, upgraded their windows, installed a high-efficiency furnace, and replaced their light bulbs. Next they plan to replace older appliances.

The family lives in the house and rents out three bedrooms, which were added to their 1950s-era home in the 1970s.

“We make sure tenants and guests are aware of things like turning lights off. We don’t use hair dryers, no air conditioning,” said Grittani. “Part of our efficiency measures is sharing our home. We’re into densification.”

According to Lundell, solar systems are at 80 per cent efficiency after 25 years in Edmonton’s colder climate. The expected lifetime of modules range anywhere from 40 to 100 years, he said, but since it’s an emerging technology, those numbers will become more accurate over time.

As for Grittani and Collings, they’re thrilled to turn to the sun for their energy needs.

“We care about the environment. It’s close to our heart,” said Collings. “Anything we can do within the parameters of the city, we’ll try to do.”

Grittani agreed, saying, “We’ve been pretty sustainable over the decades, so solar power is the next big thing. We can stop using coal for power . . . and relying on fossil fuels.”

To get the rebate, applicants must use a solar installation company. Go to solaralberta.ca/directory for eligible companies. For more information, visit efficiencyalberta.ca/solar or email solar@efficiencyalberta.ca.



ALBERTA’S SOLAR POWER

To date, 1,081 residences, 132 commercial, and 12 non-profit organizations have taken advantage of the province’s solar program. (source: Energy Efficiency Alberta)

Edmonton has the third highest annual sunshine hours of all cities in Canada, behind Calgary and Winnipeg.  (source: Environment Canada)

The City of Edmonton is offering an additional $0.15/watt towards the cost of installing a residential solar system. Paired with $0.90/watt from Energy Efficiency Alberta, you can save approximately one third of the cost of going solar.


Featured Image: Technicians Greg Cariou (far left), a technician, and Jourdan Chalifoux take a break from installing rooftop solar racking to chat with homeowners Arinna Grittani, Giles Collings, and their daughter Aurelia. | Kate Wilson

Kate Wilson

Kate took up the reporter's pad and pen while living in northern Alberta. The writing bug stuck, and the next 20 years were spent covering everything from local politics to community happenings. She lives in Alberta Avenue with her daughter.

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