Sunshine and sustainability in River Park South

By: Jennifer McFee
Posted: 09/6/2016 4:42 PM

PHOTO BY DARREN RIDGLEY Courtney Schappert and daughter Erika show off some of the components of their home’s new solar power system, the shutoff mechanism for firefighters as well as the bidirectional meter, which measures whether the home is taking power from the grid or contributing to it.

Courtney Schappert is looking at the sunny side of life after installing solar panels on his home in River Park South.

In August, Schappert became the first homeowner to flick the switch on a solar power system approved under Manitoba Hydro’s Power Smart Solar Energy program. This program offers incentives to homeowners and business owners to use solar power to generate their own energy — and they can even sell excess energy back to Manitoba Hydro.

The program covers solar photovoltaic systems that use solar cells to convert solar energy directly into electricity. As soon as Manitoba Hydro announced the program in April, Schappert applied to receive the rebate of $1,000 per kilowatt on solar power installation, which covers about 25 per cent of the cost. As well, Manitoba Hydro’s Residential Earth Power Loan offers financing up to $30,000 for solar panel installation at an annual interest rate of 4.9 per cent for the first five years. For Schappert, the rebate provided $8,250 of the total $25,000 cost to install a 30-panel system on top of his two-storey home. “It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a while, eventually getting an electric car to power by the sun,” he said. “When the announcement came out about the incentive and the loan, I did some calculations and I decided to jump on board.” Schappert was the first person to be approved through the rebate program and to have the panels installed. A Winnipeg-based company called Solar Manitoba installed his system, which is expected to cut the home’s Hydro bills in half. “On Aug. 5, the City allowed us to turn it on after their third and final inspection, and then on Aug. 18, Hydro installed the meter which allows me to see what they’re buying from me,” he said. “There are two meter numbers that you have instead of one meter number. One is the positive, which you’re buying; the other is a negative, which you’re selling. If your negative is higher than your positive, then you get a credit on your bill. If I generate more than I use, they pay me for it.” Although Schappert hasn’t received his first full bill yet on the new program, he is looking forward to seeing the savings. He even convinced his dad to purchase a 10- kilowatt system for his house near Russell. “We’re trying to get everybody excited. There’s the financial aspect, which is more of a happy benefit that makes sense in the pocketbook,” he said. “But for energy conscious or environmentally conscious people, you can’t get much better than solar.”

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