Affordable option for solar energy

Solar Island Electric Inc. is offering the ability to lease solar panels to customers so they can have more ready access to green energy

Teresa Wright
Published on January 20, 2014

Solar Island Electric Inc. company president Steve Howard is offering customers the opportunity to lease solar panels.

©Guardian photo

Islanders who have wanted to install solar panels on their homes or businesses, but balked at the costs, now have an affordable new option.

Solar Island Electric Inc. is offering the ability to lease solar panels to customers so they can have more ready access to green energy.

Company president Steve Howard says after installation, he anticipates the savings realized on the customer’s energy bills would amount to the same or more than the lease

payments for the solar panels.

“They should be able to just divert whatever they were paying for their bill to paying for (the panels) and, as long as the sun shines like it has historically, they should be able to save more than those payments total.”

Howard said surveys of Islanders have shown that a large number of residents and businesses owners in P.E.I. would like to use greener energy and would explore solar panels to achieve this.

The biggest obstacle has been the upfront installation costs, which start at around $13,000.

“This really removes the largest hurdle that’s been identified by all of our customers,” Howard said.

“People want to go green, they want to save money on their power bills and they want to do it for all the right reasons, they just can’t come up with that initial payment.”

Howard said his company is offering more than just smaller energy bills. With more residents and business owners turning to solar power, this creates all kinds of positive environmental benefits for Prince Edward Island.

“Since it’s distributed energy it will reduce transmission losses and make the grid that much more efficient,” Howard said.

“It also has eco-tourism benefits, if we can get these solar panels on hotels and restaurants where a lot of tourists would be seeing them.”

Solar Island Electric Inc. has also just been approved as one of only two Community Economic Development Businesses by the provincial government.

This means Islanders can invest in the company and receive a 35 per cent provincial tax credit, in addition to qualifying as an RRSP eligible investment.

“This allows Solar Island Electric to raise money from the general public on Prince Edward Island and raise enough capital to start rolling out these renewable energy installations, and then everybody shares in the profits of the leasing company,” Howard said.

He said he is excited to build the company and help spread affordable green energy in Prince Edward Island.

“I’m hoping to be able to green up the grid, including making the transmission system more efficient, distributing the energy generation more evenly across the Island and just overall reducing greenhouse gas emissions.”