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City solar water heating program takes next step

Proposal is for HRM to finance homeowners' installation of solar water heating systems.

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A solar water heating system.
  • A solar water heating system.

Halifax is one step closer to implementing a city program to bring solar water heating systems to hundreds of houses annually in the HRM. The plan calls for the city to finance and oversee the technical installations of the systems, so as to not burden homeowners with those complexities. The homeowners would then pay for the systems with an annual bill associated with the property tax bill; the annual bill will be less than the expected savings derived from the solar heating system, and will be paid off in about six years. After that, all the savings will go to the homeowner.

The plan still depends on a couple of issues getting sorted out---first, the city needs to know its financial assessment is correct and, second, it needs to secure $5 million in financing through the Federal Canadian Municipalities’ Green Municipal Fund. Tuesday, Halifax council took action to address the first issue by directing staff to issue a request for proposal to local solar companies; the companies will bid on doing the installations, and so set a firm price for the program. Next year, the city will apply for the Green Municipal Fund money. If successful on both counts, the solar program should be up and running by Spring 2013.

A staff report details the expected benefits of the program, including the creation of 30-40 permanent new “green collar” jobs in the solar installation and energy efficiency assessment businesses, $250-$700 in annual savings per homeowner and reducing 2,000 tonnes of C02 emissions per year across the city.

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