Change For Climate Lunchbox Series: Making the Switch – Solar Energy

my name is heather wheelaker and i'm here with my colleague karen young and both of us work in the economic and environmental sustainability branch with the city we're joined by another colleague from our same unit lisa dockman who is going to deliver the content of today's session along with darrell kaminski who lisa will introduce shortly as well two solar technical advisors from incline solutions are joining us to help with responding to any questions that may arise during today's session welcome and thank you akimalad and isaiah womack and just a note this session will be recorded and we're only recording the speaking and the presentation slides next slide please at this time i wish to acknowledge that we are on the traditional land of treaty six territory we do this to create awareness and to remind ourselves that we are all treaty members no matter where we are from or what language we speak i did not grow up on treaty 6 territory but i have a strong sense of belonging because of the welcoming environment created here as treaty members each of us shares responsibility for creating and nurturing an inclusive and respectful community it is now my pleasure to introduce today's presenter lisa dochman is a project manager who develops and implements programs for homeowners that move us closer to reaching the goals of edmonton's community and energy transition strategy one of the programs that lisa oversees and will touch on during this session is the city of edmonton solar rebate program and lisa is going to be introducing her co-presenter daryl kaminsky from solar alberta too so with that please welcome my colleague lisa dochman lisa good morning everybody and thank you i guess good afternoon by a few minutes good thank you heather uh for the introduction and for organizing this event and thanks everybody for joining us uh for this really important conversation and uh webinar lunch and learn um yeah so i will get us kicked off with just a little bit of context um guiding this work at the city of edmonton and then i'll hand it over to my colleague daryl kaminsky who's the president of solar alberta so alberta as many of you may know is just a really great organization working in this space and we're so grateful that he's able to share his insights and provide us um sort of everything we need to know about uh solar solar power in alberta so um we'll i'll hand it over to him at one point here and then after his presentation i will provide some details on a few rebate programs that exist remintonians to help make the switch more accessible to you and then as heather described we have two colleagues uh akim and isaiah from incline incline is the program administrator that the city of edmonton has contracted to deliver our solar rebate program so they will be helping answer any questions you may have over the course of the session and then also of course at the end so a big thanks to them for their expertise so uh our efforts towards encouraging um solar power on homes and buildings in edmonton are part of the implementation of edmonton's community energy transition strategy so this is um essentially a road map of how edmonton plans to achieve a low carbon sustainable energy future and really take advantage of this transition to a green economy that's happening all around us um so this plan was originally approved by city council in 2015 um and it has these three major targets by 2035 so a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions a savings in energy and then also a local generation target of 10 percent so as you can see solar power really hits at least two if not all three of these components of our of our work in the community and especially that ten percent of local energy generation solar is just absolutely such a great way of achieving that uh that ten percent of course daryl will get into more of the benefits around that um but as many of you may know in 2019 city council declared a climate emergency and at the same time asked administration to update the energy transition strategy to align with uh the paris agreement so the paris agreement is the ipcc's or intergovernmental panel on climate change is guided by those ipcc scientists and their recommendation that to avoid the most catastrophic parts of climate change and impacts of it really we globally need to stay below an average increase of 1.5 degrees celsius so that's what's guided this overarching number in the city's commitment to that level of ambition and actually yesterday the updated energy transition strategy was approved by executive committee to go to full council on april 19th next week so we are very close to seeing the outcome of that conversation and encourage you to tune in if you're interested so supplementary to the energy transition strategy this work is also integral to the city plan so in late 2019 uh council passed the new city plan um which really is a it's the municipal development plan it's the transportation master plan it has this real important position as a strategic guiding document for the organization and the community but it it has five big moves that are meant to guide how we grow to an estimated 2 million people in edmonton one of them is known as a big city move or greener as we grow and you'll see these three targets within that big city move so there's an urban trees target but then a total community-wide carbon budget of 135 megatons and a net per person ghg emissions of zero so these are by 2050 but as you can see they're very very um you know ambitious and uh and are in alignment with that paris agreement so we already have a lot of uh support and uh strategic um direction to to advance this solar in the community so as the community energy transition strategies implemented um we have all of the sources of ghg emissions and of energy consumption in the city in mind and have targeted actions and programs that look at reducing in all of these areas so if you were to go to change for climate you'd see programs related to commercial buildings residential which are those that i lead and then also transportation related omissions and then one last slide before i hand it over to daryl because i think this is an interesting one it's a slightly different story than the last i just showed so if you look at um the left-hand side here our our energy our total energy consumption by energy type about 16 is from electricity now granted this is in 2012 i know would you have newer numbers than this now but you know have to integrate those in to this shortly but 16 of our energy consumption was electricity but given the carbon intensity of our grid in alberta at in 2012 that resulted in almost 40 percent of our ghg emissions so really the carbon intensity of our electricity is meaning that when we make changes to our homes and buildings that result in electricity savings it has a dramatic impact on our carbon footprint as edmontonians so uh really an important thing to focus on and i know since 2012 our grid has changed dramatically in edmonton at least you know more than 20 percent um cleaner than it was back then um with uh sort of phase out of coal but i still do think that this is an important message to get it to kick us off um when you compare alberta to places like bc or ontario their grids are just dramatically different with the presence of hydroelectricity for example and even in alberta when we do decarbonize we're replacing coal with natural gas so this the impact of solar i think will always have a really important role as it offsets generates green electricity in that local context and uh and i'm very much looking forward to hearing more um from daryl who i will hand it over to thank you lisa i'm just having a little technical difficulty here i hope you can see my screen um good okay so the solar alberta group is also known as the solar energy society of alberta we've been around for a while now 30 years this year i'm happy to say and we are a group of volunteers that uh carry the torch of solar energy in alberta i like to think our mission is to advance community collaboration and understanding around alberta's renewable energy resources all of them not just solar and energy efficiency which in my opinion comes first when you reduce energy then you can change to a new cleaner source more cost effectively so we have a solar directory that i'm going to loop back to later on but i wanted to put it out there that this is a one-stop shopping for checking out who is doing what in solar energy in alberta and that's going to come in handy with a certain program that has an incentive to install solar in edmonton i had a solar cooker this is what kids in school learn you can have an insulated cardboard box with a tin foil and a clear coating to let the sun in and it's enough to bake cookies but there's industrial size versions of that for making meals for entire villages in places like india there's a solar thermal on the wall of a home and that cat is not for scale so thermal is just the sun hitting something heating up the air or fluid and then bringing it into the building what we want to talk about is the next one please advance thank you hey there it is there's um on somebody's acreage a uh solar array on uh iraq it looks like they have decided to mount theirs on sturdy wood beams and that is a good way to do solar if you have a lot of space and you can tilt it to the ideal angle it's and it when it all works it's just it seems like magic to me it still does when i was a kid i saw solar and i never stopped thinking about how really electricity is coming from the sun yeah photons into electrons that's really all it is that it boils down to it's a little more complex than that but i won't go into the science of it just right now uh next slide please so what are the benefits of going solar okay if you're talking about a residential installation uh many reducing your environmental impact from the grid alberta does have the still a little bit of a carbon intensive grid there's still coal natural gas and uh it's actually one of the dirtiest grids in canada um so solar does offset a lot of that and make your energy consumption a lot greener yes you will save money some people are still concerned that that's not true it is true 12 to 15 years payback depending on the size of your system and the cost to install it but the lifespan is 25 to 30 years and i say in that range because the warranties go to 25 years to 30 years but there's evidence that they are actually still going after that time some of the early solar installs are still running still producing energy increasing the resale value of your home yes it's desirable to have solar energy on homes there's a market for that they will pay a premium and you can actually reduce your reliance on the energy grid though you're connected to it you can have a battery backup which allows you to capture more of your solar energy and use it for what you like not exporting it all to the grid for your neighbors but you could also charge an electric car we can get into that more if we have time we'll advance the next slide please uh so does it make sense in this region edmonton yes as has been said many times we get more solar electricity than germany which has a lot of solar installations and yes you do get the energy credit if you put any excess production onto the grid that's called export if you export any solar to the grid your neighbors get to use it you do get credited on your bill you can make arrangements with independent retailers by the way to get more than some other retailers i won't talk about shopping the retailers but this is a deregulated market in alberta and you can choose your own energy retailer they may give you a bounty for solar energy exported just saying so um yes there's another plug for the electric vehicle at the end there you could use it to charge your electric car next please so what's it all about component wise uh those modules that we see on the roof those are dc or battery type you know you could charge a battery almost directly with direct current uh but you need a little bit of electronics in the way to plug it into the grid so some cables are going to bring it into an inverter an alternating current inverter so it's dc to ac conversion and you're going gonna because electrons aren't so visible you're gonna watch it on a web-based production interface and by production i mean generation of electricity is going to be viewed could be minute by minute or at least hour by hour and many of these can be gathered together into uh if you're in a town home and such you could have each town homes gathered into a master interface to see how much the entire complex is making next slide please what is the cost of all this yes we get that cost question a lot i've thrown up some industry averages from some of my colleagues on the board of directors and they're saying that across alberta this is alberta white not just edmonton two dollars to 275 a watt and typical size five to seven thousand watts and cost somewhere around 10 to fifteen thousand dollars now these are all alberta wide kind of ranges and uh i've been informed by a colleague here that the price for edmonton is under the program they've gathered some data and they're saying it's about 2.33 cents a watt and the average size is actually 8 000 watts or 8 kilowatts that's pretty big um and i think it might be because the incentive is helping them to afford a slightly larger installation than they might have otherwise next slide please so yes our formal name is solar energy society of alberta our handles silver alberta and when we are all able to again we look forward to having solar drinks together once again where we can all just chat about whatever renewable and efficiency stuff you are interested in and with that yes i'll formally hand it back now that we have some of that context around the um how solar panels work and some of the benefits i did want to share a little bit about programs available to edmontonians um residential solar rebate program and hera the home energy retrofit accelerator so just before i get into um the details of the solar rebate program i did think i did think i'd mention briefly how solar has been doing in edmonton so this is actually a screenshot of our some tableau visualizations that we have on our website and there's a link here that we can share to the actual page but i do think that these are very telling so if you look at for example the top graph and i do apologize it's quite small text but the top graph is the total connected capacity in edmonton over time and so in 2021 there was over uh 1900 kilowatts of install capacity in edmonton and if you look back 10 years in 2011 that was only 142.

So some pretty dramatic growth over the last 10 years in within edmonton city limits the second here is the total solar sites that are connected so in 2020 uh we have the total number from 2020 here uh that was 513 whereas if you look 10 years ago in 2010 it was only 15. so while i think overall the total is still like a fairly small proportion of our electricity comes from solar within edmonton i do think it's pretty fascinating to see the rate of growth and the the interest that's really spiked um in our community so since our rebate program launched in july 2019 uh 265 solar installations have received funding and have resulted in that 1.9 uh i guess 1900 kilowatts of install capacity uh and then solar power provided enough electricity in 2019 to meet point one two three percent of edmonton's total needs which is up quite uh as it is up from 2018 but in comparison is significantly lower than the 10 goal in the community energy transition strategy so i think just demonstrates that while there's some great growth there's so much more opportunity to be able to support solar installations in the community to achieve our climate resilience goals so i'm really grateful that daryl describes sort of a few different kinds of solar because our solar rebate program does rebate specific type and that's the solar photovoltaic or pv so these are the panels that you'll see in this picture here on a garage or on a roof for example and that their electricity not the solar thermal or battery storage daryl did a great job talking about the components um i did just think i would mention that systems must be compatible with the government of alberta's micro generation regulation to be eligible for this rebate so we do welcome questions on that but i think essentially there's lots of details online but i think a big um a big component of that is that it needs to be grid connected um and that it also needs to there's a limit to the amount you can install no matter how big your roof this regulation limits the size of your system uh too close to your consumption um so that people aren't you know generating a whole lot more than they may be using in their home um and then that grid connected is a really interesting one because as daryl mentioned um although your total capacity needs to be uh closely close to your consumption um in edmonton given our sort of climate patterns you do tend to over produce in the summer and sometimes shoulder seasons and then under produce in the winter months so while there's really great potential year-round um on those times when you're over producing you're then feeding back into the grid through a bi-directional meter and then of course getting those credits as daryl described for that work so the residential solar rebate program provides 40 cents per installed watt for existing homes and buildings and then 30 cent per watt for new homes and buildings uh and we're finding that the price is a little bit less expensive for uh the new homes and buildings and that's sort of why this both of these amounts cover 15 of the total system costs um so the eligibility is residential homes um single-family multi-family secondary suites whether that be a garage suite or a garden suite rooftop of your home or a garage both systems are welcome however expansions are not allowed to existing systems it's a two-part application with a pre and post install and i came in isaiah can answer all kinds of questions about that um but the funds are held if you have an approved pre um pre-install application those funds are held for nine months for you to complete your system and either the homeowner or the installer can apply on the homeowner's behalf depending on your preference you do need to include a contractor that you need to choose a contractor that is either on the solar alberta or canreya list and um as well you'll find links to all of that and i do encourage you to review the detailed terms and conditions as well if you're interested so i already described those rebate amounts but i did want to share a couple maximums so as of april 7th so these are some changes that we very recently made um the rebate cap is four thousand dollars per dwelling or forty percent of the system costs whichever is lower so you get that thirty or forty percent thirty forty cent rebate per watt to the one of those maximums and that is per dwelling so um if you have you know a secondary suite in your basement and a garage suite that would be three dwellings in your single family home or of course multi-family townhouses condos apartments and then there is a maximum of fifty thousand dollars in rebates per calendar year for per property owner or builder so that's another significant one to keep in mind and then just to help ensure that there is an equal um weighting to existing and new builds there is a limit of 50 percent of the annual program incentive budget going to new construction projects now we do strongly encourage uh edmontonians to reach out to a qualified solar installer you should get some quotes and get some insight into the feasibility and the design of a solar system on your home or garage but we have partnered with my heat to help sort of provide kind of an entry point for folks that maybe aren't ready to contact an installer yet or are just interested to see what their potential might be i'd encourage you to check out um this is actually my house here you'll see the person that we bought my home from has a beautiful garden that we are not going to be able to live up to this summer um but you'll see that uh my address has 1246 hours of usable sunlight a year and 80 square meters of usable roof space so if it doesn't have you know the best solar potential in edmonton you'll see it's like maybe not as yellow as maybe some of the buildings around but despite that there is still um really great um great solar potential for my home and if you scroll further down after you've entered your home's address you can also enter your electricity bill your and it tells you the amount of panels in the size system that might be appropriate sort of you know a rough estimate based on some localized assumptions and it also tells you some of the benefits that you might anticipate environmental but also financial return on investment for that kind of a system and then just briefly because i do know our focus today is uh is on the solar program um there is an element of the home energy retrofit accelerator that is relevant to you folks that might be interested in solar so first of all what is hera so this is the home energy retrofit accelerator it's a residential energy efficiency incentive program that helps facilitate home renovations that result in carbon emissions reductions energy savings and simultaneously help support the thriving renovation and building industry in edmonton by stimulating these kind of this kind of renovation activity so hair is available to all the mentonians homeowners through this process here but essentially what it's doing is providing rebates for things like insulation windows water and space heating equipment and then also we're trying to encourage folks to you know undergo multiple measures and multiple upgrades and so there's a bonus available for more significant retrofits so those who are interested in hera the process is to complete an enter guide home energy evaluation for which there's a 350 rebate for they then enroll in the program with that label upgrade their home you know in a way that's compatible with the eligibility criteria for all the different uh equipment that's eligible for the program apply for rebates and then you can do a post renovation evaluation if you'd like so i went through this program in detail um in another session on march 30th that is is um going to be very soon posted on this link here the lunchbox page but i do encourage you to go watch that but i did just want to highlight that we have a rebate within hera specific as a bonus for folks that renovate their home to net zero and by this i mean a home that produces enough energy to meet all of its energy needs on an annual basis so for example you'll see a photo of that transformation in the bottom there but i do want to bring this up because in addition to that solar rebate program that i described and in addition to any home energy efficiency upgrades you might make this ten thousand dollar rebate is for edmontonians that demonstrate an energized label of zero and really to be at an a state of net zero you have to for the most part have solar power on your rooftop um so really this is an added uh there's added value here to edmontonians considering going solar um so expenses related with your materials but also professional services from these installations are eligible um is stackable as i mentioned with other programs but also as an addition to the product specific hair rebates and then you can get um credit in this rebate for work that's taken place um really any time as long as that work took place between a pre and post and a guide evaluation so if you've had an undergrad for a number of years then work that's taken place to upgrade your home would be eligible so this is the program page for hair i would encourage you to go take a peek if you're interested and then the last two the last two mentions i'd make as you may have heard um and so apologies if you have but we are also anticipating uh the greener homes program to be announced this spring so sometimes shortly here um and it is the federal government's um it's part of kind of their green recovery and it's up to one million free enter guide assessments and up to 700 000 grants for five thousand dollars per homeowner now the materials so far for this program talk about energy efficiency but they also mention renewables so really that's really great alignment between those of you that are considering solar the edmonton program and also this federal one that we expect will be available very soon and then lastly some of you may have heard about um this financing tool uh seep the clean energy improvement program um that city of edmonton's working on a pilot um that i'm i'm certain you'll hear a lot more about in future um but essentially i wanted to mention it because while it's on the horizon and do anticipate you know in the you know potentially i think it's q3 this year we might see this program available to edmontonians it's a really neat model so it's it's a it's based on a pace as a model the property assessed clean energy which is a financing tool that is a low-cost long-term funding for renewables but also energy efficiency to homes and buildings so it's really really quite important because it pays for 100 percent of par of the project costs through that financing but then is repaid over the lifetime of the product via the property taxes of that home so this is i think the most innovative and important part of this as a financing tool is many homeowners don't own their home for 20 or 25 years so solar can be a really challenging investment given some of those longer term returns and what this does is really provide an alternative to that because the idea being that the benefit stays with the home the solar panels stay with the home upon sale as does the repayment of that financing through the municipal property taxes so there is there a link there as well for more information but also feel free to ask some questions and just um the program administrator's contact information here as well as my own thank you again to our presenters lisa dockman with the city of edmonton and daryl kaminsky with solar alberta for sharing your time and your expertise with us and thank you to the solar advisors akimalaid and isaiah womack with incline solutions for helping to respond to questions and to my colleague karen young for handling all of the logistical pieces to make this happen and for taking over at the at the start of the session and to our audience i hope that we will see you again at an upcoming session have a terrific afternoon

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