Nunatsiaq News
NEWS: Nunavut May 09, 2018 - 3:30 pm

Use solar, protect the climate, Iqaluit MLA urges

“We know that continuing to generate electricity using fossil fuels is not sustainable”

Iqaluit-Manirajak MLA Adam Lightstone says the Nunavut Housing Corp. and the Qulliq Energy Corp. should do more to promote the use of solar panels by homeowners. (PHOTO BY BETH BROWN)
Iqaluit-Manirajak MLA Adam Lightstone says the Nunavut Housing Corp. and the Qulliq Energy Corp. should do more to promote the use of solar panels by homeowners. (PHOTO BY BETH BROWN)

Nunavummiut can apply for funding from the Nunavut Housing Corp.’s home renovation program to help buy solar panels and wind energy systems for their home, and use that technology to received a credit from the Qulliq Energy Corp. under its new net metering program.

That’s what Iqaluit-Manirajak MLA Adam Lightstone learned early last week during a televised committee meeting at the Nunavut legislature May 1, when MLAs reviewed a critical report by Canada’s auditor general on the Government of Nunavut’s response to climate change.

The MLA used his question to ask QEC and NHC officials if the two programs work together.

“Surprisingly, he said yes,” Lightstone said, referring to Terry Audla, president of the housing corporation.

“I wanted to spread the word … I wanted to make sure it was publicly known,” he told Nunatsiaq News May 3.

In April, the QEC started taking applications for its net metering program, which lets Nunavut customers get credit for energy they produce using renewable energy systems.

The QEC expects the net metering program to get off the ground by the end of this year, and commercial groups will be able to use the program by next year.

But QEC President Bruno Perreira said no one has applied for the program.

“We have not received any formal applications … but have had a lot of inquiries from interested parties,” he said.

The housing corporation’s home renovation program gives homeowners a chance to apply for up to $65,000 to upgrade their homes, and up to $15,000 of that funding must be used for sustainable energy upgrades if the homeowner receives more than $50,000.

Any homeowner can apply to use the fund to add solar panels to their home.

That’s as long as a homeowner is in good standing with the housing corporation, and as long as they don’t make too much money, because the funding is given out on a sliding scale based on the annual income of a homeowner.

For example, the NHC said that to be eligible for 100 per cent of the $65,000, an Iqaluit household must receive a total household income of $142,000 or less per year.

In Whale Cove, that figure is $128,000 annually, and in Cambridge Bay it’s $135,200 annually.

After those income caps, homeowners may be able to get between 80 per cent and 20 per cent of that funding.

But Lightstone said these thresholds aren’t high enough.

“In Nunavut, you need to have a dual income family to own a home. In most cases, having a dual income would put your household income over the threshold,” Lightstone said.

“It’s preventing Nunavummiut from accessing these programs. That’s something that has to be amended by the corporation.”

Lightstone would like to see Nunavut’s climate change secretariat create a stand-alone incentive program to encourage Nunavummiut to use renewable energy.

But during the televised committee, he was told that wasn’t going to happen.

“We’re at a point in time where how we choose to generate electricity is critical to our future,” Lightstone told Nunatsiaq News.

“We know that continuing to generate electricity using fossil fuels is not sustainable, and that it’s impacting the climate.”

Renewable energy and support for homeowners in Nunavut were both part of Lightstone’s campaign platform during the fall territorial election.

With files from Sarah Rogers

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(19) Comments:

#1. Posted by Jeff on May 09, 2018

This young fellow asking all the right questions. Keep up the good work AL.

#2. Posted by pissed off on May 09, 2018

Bravo to Mr. Livingstone for raising the issue and asking questions.

However the real question as far as the energy strategy is concerned should be,  commercial possibilities for companies to generate alternate electricity by the mean of their choice and getting a realistic price per kilowatt in return.

By that, I mean a price around 50% of the REAL cost of producing the same kilowatt by QEC.
An honest effort in that sense would open up all kinds of real business sense endeavours.
These would be quite easy to finance, operate and would displace fuel consumption by a great amount.
We all know that these kinds of projects are not cheap to install up North but generating electricity with diesel engines is not either if you put all the numbers honestly on the table. Let prite industry find the means and run the projects.
All you have to do is offer a price, terms and conditions that are bankable and it will happen.

#3. Posted by Secret on May 09, 2018

I like what this guy is doing.  Break the status quo, don’t accept no as an answer.  Break the artificial housing market,  break the dependence on fossil fuel!  Go Adam!

#4. Posted by Sam Camp on May 09, 2018

Will it appears this won’t be any benefit to the homeowner in Iqaluit as it would be hard to find any homeowner with an household iincome of less than $142,000. However, the GN makes it clear again in this program the Iqaluit where most homeowners are whites do temperory residents from the south, they get special treatment. All other communities where homeowners are Inuk the max limit on household income for applying in lower. Obviously it is reasonable to know who is controlling the Inuk leaders in the GN. This Government is no different than the past, only weaker.

#5. Posted by iRoll on May 10, 2018

#4 Tell us more about the ‘special treatment’ white folks get? I’d love to hear more.

Good work, Adam. Keep it up.

#6. Posted by roadrunner on May 10, 2018

I asked a solar distributor when he was in town and made
contact with the company in ontario but i was shot down
by the company why get the solar unit when our nunavut government subsidizies our usage,so i was discouraged by
his remark also the nunavut government does not have any going green programs like the rest of the world so i ran
into alot of road blocks along the way with questions that i had to our nunavut government,maybe if they thought like our nunavik counter parts they would get
somewhere and make a bit of progress .

#7. Posted by Homeowner on May 10, 2018

#4, how do you figure it would be hard to find any homeowners in Iqaluit with less than $142k household income? Not everyone is a high paid GN worker, some of us work in the real world and have to live on far less. If you’re making more than $142k then you shouldn’t need help!

#8. Posted by Benoit Hudson on May 10, 2018

The program with QEC doesn’t care how you finance your solar installation. You can sign up regardless of how much you make.

NHC will help with financing if you are just barely rich enough to afford a home. But you can make solar pay off even though electricity is subsidized, and even without NHC help.

I have a quote for about $6,000 for the equipment, shipping should be about $1,000, then I need an electrician to do the wiring after I put everything in place. That should reduce my electricity cost by about $1,000 a year, so it’ll pay off in well under ten years.

Installers from the South feel the need to fly up their own workers, which would blow the budget, but we have all the people we need here in town already.

Apparently I’m the first homeowner to be going through with this (as opposed to municipal accounts), so everything is a bit slow-moving. But the more others jump in, the better.

#9. Posted by Jim MacDonald on May 10, 2018

Solar panels must be kept clean free of raven poop, dust and snow. If not expect up to an 80% cut in electrical output. This constant cleaning may become expensive for home owner. 

With new Nunavut Green subsidies (solar/wind), usually what follows is a Green Tax and electrical rate increases. How much will these be, and how soon?

Nunavut Fire department regulations for solar panel installation, what is it? As they can seriously delay attacking a house, building fire.  Will home owners insurance increase if solar panels are on roof?

Solar panels cannot be recycled because of their toxic make up. Life span in the south is 20 years, but there will be broken panels or panels trashed long before that. 

Does Nunavut, caring for the environment have the funding in place for toxic solar panel dumps to be built ASP, or funding to ship and pay for dispose in south? 

Will current diesel generating plants now be further neglected?

#10. Posted by Question on May 10, 2018

Is this program providing a loan to homeowners, or a grant?

#11. Posted by Former insider on May 10, 2018

#8 - how large a system are you getting for $6000?  When I look online a 10 KW grid tie kit comes in at about $30,000.  With installation and fees charged by QEC my rough estimate was that a 10 KW system was going to cost about $60,000.  My total electrical bill for last year was under $3000 and net metering credits will expire at the end of each fiscal year so the payback, accounting for annual increases in electrical rates, was going to be at least 15 years.  That same $60,000 in a simple GIC would earn $20,000 in interest making the payback on solar more like 20 years.

#12. Posted by Namminili on May 10, 2018

I would like to be a part of this.  Can they distribute this info to all homeowners that is simplified?  I went to the site and opened one document of MANY and gave up on the technical and other wording by the 2nd page.  Check it out:

#13. Posted by Electrician on May 10, 2018

@#11 10 kW is a lot for a house in the north. Since most houses here don’t have electric heat the typical consumption for a house is closer to half or one third of that.

@#12 There’s a step-by-step guide on their website intended to guide homeowner’s through the process.

#14. Posted by Former insider on May 10, 2018

#11 10 KW is the maximum installation that QEC allow and a system rated at 10 KW will generally only produce 5-7 during peak hours when the sun is directly in line with the panels.  Panel efficiency also declines by 1-5 % per year depending on who you believe.  Regardless of the capacity, I’m having a hard time making the expense make sense over the long term.  Maybe after a few more years when the prices on the panels has dropped even more.

#15. Posted by Wannabe on May 10, 2018

I would like to do feasibility study. As simple as I am. I will mark the sunny days and the temperature of that day on my calendar.
Maybe sunny days June, July and partly August. Winter and Autumn. Humm!

#16. Posted by Benoit Hudson on May 10, 2018

Former insider@11: the quote is for a 3.8 kW kit from Solacity, to offset an annual $1000 bill. The ideal roof would offset $1500 with that same kit, but mine points the wrong way and isn’t very steep.

I just looked and for 10 kW I see various sites offering kits for $15k to $20k. So there you just saved $10-15k off your estimate.

Solar panels might not be the most cost-effective solution for you yet. In order of cost-benefit: switch to all LEDs for your lights, get a slow-cooker or a pressure cooker (Instant Pot is super popular these days), get more efficient appliances when you need to replace them, and *then* get solar panels.

Question@10: NHC’s program is a mix between a loan and a grant. If you stay for 10 years it’s a grant; if you leave earlier you have to repay part of the grant.

Jim MacDonald@9: When firefighters show up they just have to turn off the electricity like they already do for any house fire. The electrical code handles solar panels already.

#17. Posted by Former insider on May 10, 2018

@benoit - thx for the link, those are a LOT cheaper than what I was looking at.  We’ve already cut our electricity usage about in half by converting to LEDs and our instant pot is in use about 5 times a week.  Our next big push is likely going to be to improve the efficiency of our heating sysyems.  At the moment I think that will generate better returns for us than a solar installation will.

#18. Posted by monty sling on May 14, 2018

this is only for those who have means; very few ppl at that too. although i am a home owner, i just have to sit on sidelines and envy. wood stove as supplementary heating is good for me…furnace is on only at night. if all else fails, i might have to resort to qulik.

#19. Posted by Home owner on May 14, 2018

As a home owner I would love to have solar energy for my house, get the program running and I will apply.

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