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Canada’s National Energy Board says it makes no economic sense to install solar panels in provinces like Manitoba which have an abundance of cheap hydroelectricity.
The NEB released a report last week comparing the costs of solar energy with prices Canadians pay for electricity from their local grids. It found that in Manitoba, which has among the lowest cost electricity in the country, solar power is far more expensive than hydroelectricity.
It makes us wonder why Manitoba Hydro spent millions over the past two years giving subsidies to people to install solar panels on their property. It’s obvious the subsidy program was misguided from the outset.
The NEB says even with declining costs for solar power in the coming years, it’s still far cheaper to buy electricity from Hydro in Manitoba. In other words, there is no pay-off in the short-term or in the long-term for people to switch to solar power in Manitoba. And because hydroelectricity is renewable and relatively clean, there are no environmental benefits to solar power either, especially when you factor in the energy costs and related emissions to manufacture solar panels.
Despite that, Manitoba Hydro launched a two-year pilot project in 2016 to dole out subsidies to people to switch to solar energy. It was a poorly conceived program that made no sense economically or environmentally.
Besides, why would Hydro — which has over-invested in hydro dam capacity and is expected to have a surplus of power for the next several decades — promote the idea of getting Manitobans off its grid? Hydro has an overabundance of supply and it needs the demand to pay off the billions it borrowed to finance the construction of unnecessary dams like Keeyask. Why would it encourage people to stop buying its electricity by going solar? It defies common sense.
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