Investing in solar energy

Solar photovoltaic (PV) panels, installed on roof-tops or mounted on the ground, convert the sun’s rays into electricity. Your home or business will use the electricity produced by your solar PV system, and if at any point more energy is generated than you are using, it can be sold to us through our net billing offer.

Solar PV systems can reduce the amount of electricity you buy during daylight hours. Unless you install a significant amount of battery storage, you will need to be connected to our grid to have a reliable supply of electricity when your solar PV system does not generate enough for your needs. You will also use our grid to export power if at any time of day your solar PV system generates more electricity than you are using.

A diagram showing how solar capacity usage throughout the day, indicating that a surplus of electricity only occurs when the sun is at its peak.

Solar capacity and usage change throughout the day, a surplus of electricity only occurs when the sun is at its peak, and usage is relatively low.

If you are thinking about installing a solar PV system in Manitoba, keep in mind that:

  • generating your own electricity may not mean you are off our grid;
  • the direction your solar panels face, along with shade from trees or buildings, can affect their energy output;
  • your system will shut down during power outages to ensure the safety of our crews working on power lines;
  • solar PV has a greater lifecycle carbon footprint (per unit of energy) than Manitoba’s hydroelectricity, which makes up 98% of Manitoba’s generation.

The Solar Energy Pilot Program ended May 1, 2018.

Payback estimates

The payback period for solar energy depends on the upfront costs of equipment and installation, and ongoing expenses such as maintenance or repairs.

The National Energy Board completed a review of solar cost effectiveness, including information specific to Manitoba. Most Manitobans will not find solar energy cheaper than our low-cost and renewable hydroelectric power. View the National Energy Board’s Economics of Solar Power in Canada report.

The payback period of a solar PV system depends on:

  • the total installed cost per kW (DC);
  • your site’s annual energy needs against the size of system you are installing;
  • future electricity rates in Manitoba, as well as the price paid for excess energy.

We recommend getting at least 2 or 3 quotes and to be wary of estimates that promise quick paybacks.

Average solar installations in Manitoba

INSTALLED PRICE PER KW
$2,000–$4,000
PAYBACK PERIOD
19 to 25 years
Price paid for excess energy
$0.03949 /kWh

Ask your contractor:

  • Do estimates include taxes, permit costs, bi-directional meter, electrical service upgrades, and ongoing maintenance?
  • What kinds of warranties are provided on labour and product?
  • What projected electricity rates are being assumed to calculate any potential payback, including the price paid for excess electricity?

All solar panel installations need an electrical permit and usually a building permit from your municipality. All electrical work must be done by a licensed electrical contractor and meet the Manitoba Electrical Code.