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Alberta unveils solar-power rebate program

Solar uptake in the oil-rich province could quadruple in the next five years under the incentive imitative.

By Daniel J. Graeber
Alberta unveils solar-power rebate program
Alberta Environment Minister Shannon Phillips introduces program that offers rebates to residential and commercial installations of solar power. Photo courtesy of the provincial government of Alberta.

June 22 (UPI) -- Solar power in the oil-rich Canadian province of Alberta has the potential to quadruple under an installation rebate program, the government said.

Up to $7,500 in rebates for homeowners and up to $375,000 for businesses and non-profit organizations is available to help cover some of the costs tied to solar panel installation.

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Environment Minister Shannon Phillips said the mix of solar power on the provincial grid is growing as costs move lower.

"This rebate program has been a missing piece in making the push toward solar and renewable generation in Alberta," she said in a statement.

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Without the program, the government estimates solar uptake could grow from 2 megawatts to 30 MW by 2022. That quadruples with the program in place, with solar uptake reaching a potential 140 MW during the next five years.

A $3.7 million municipal support program introduced in April provides rebates to municipalities that install solar panels on their offices and community centers. By provincial estimates, the rebates in the last year helped those communities save more than a quarter million U.S. dollars on energy bills and helps support broader goals for renewable energy.

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The government said solar power in the province doubled in 2015 thanks in part to a municipal and farm-area incentive programs. Since the municipal program was launched last year, Alberta said 28 new solar installations have been financed.

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Alberta estimates its residential and commercial solar program could support as many as 900 new jobs in the solar power sector by 2019. Alberta relies heavily on the oil industry, but counts renewables as part of a broader economic recovery agenda.

Other provincial governments are taking the initiative on clean energy, which Saskatchewan leading efforts with its commitment to source 50 percent of its electricity from renewable energy by 2030.

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