British Columbia's public power utility says for the first time it will provide rebates for the installation of rooftop solar and battery storage systems for residents and businesses.

BC Hydro says in a news release that eligible homeowners can receive rebates up to $10,000 for installing a qualified solar and battery storage system, while apartment buildings, schools, businesses and others could get from $50,000 to $150,000 back.

The utility says the program will make it easier for people and businesses to generate their own electricity, reduce their power bills and deliver clean energy back to the electricity grid.

The rebates are part of a plan to accelerate the shift to clear energy in the province and comes after BC Hydro made a call for more clean power generation for the first time in 15 years and updated its capital plan that includes $40 billion in investments.

Chris O'Riley, BC Hydro CEO, says investing in systems today puts the province on the path to meet power demands later and that's why they're taking action to source the clean electricity needed.

The rebates will be available in July.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 27, 2024.

Great news. This rebate will make a difference and likely stimulate a surge in new installations.

BC Hydro also seems to have made their net metering credit a bit more reasonable. It used to be a 1:1 credit where every surplus kWh sent to the grid was credited to one's future bills at 100%. The credits make a difference in the cost of the power draw from the grid during cold dark winter months.

BCH management then decided to lower the credit by 60% and used the costs of the transmission network as the reason. This rationale was flawed because it ignored the fact they were receiving free power. This policy instantly killed my own plans for installing 22 solar panels on my house roof which has a perfect orientation of 45 degrees facing south.

Someone (the NDP government?) must have had stern words with the CEO. Hydro has now made the credit more beneficial, but also more complex. Why not make it a simple flat rate that everyone can understand? Sure, take five or 10 percent for "grid management", but give the party generating the power at their own cost at least 85-90% to make enough of a return on their investment to break even.

It's interesting that Hydro also mentions batteries. Someone has been paying attention to the phenomenal progress in battery tech, with small scale residential applications now having plenty of off-the-shelf choices. Lihium iron phosphate is now the go-to chemistry, replacing less stable formulations containing cobalt and nickel. Sodium lithium hybrid batteries are even better and cheaper and are now entering commercialization.

Keep in mind that Hydro's massive grid is essentially one huge battery in the form of water stored in reservoirs. Add 100,000 residential, commercial and industrial battery packs with the dynamic characteristics of net metering two-way transmission and you've got a whopping renewable power grid capable of blowing fossil fuels off their throne.

Hydro is also responding to time of day net metering which allows drawdown from the grid to charge batteries in the wee hours at very reasonable rates. The stored cheaper power coupled with full daytime solar energy can be sent to the grid and credited to one's account at higher rates during peak periods, offsetting Hydro's peak period generation and shaving off wear and tear on BCH's turbine infrastructure.

This is obviously a mutually beneficial relationship, and I'm glad Hydro management finally did the math. Now, if they'll only up the rebate to include upgrades to older residential electrical systems.....

From my Ontario point of view, 1:1 NetMetering makes money for Utilities.

Most people here use Time Of Day tiered rates, but NetMetering essentially sets a customer on MidPeak rates, even if it’s not expressed that way. This means :
- they take my surplus Solar from me at MidPeak rates and
- sell it to my neighbours at Peak rates, - while also reducing wear on their lines by buying less from OPG (our BC Hydro) NiagaraFalls.

Then at night, they
- give me my banked electricity at MidPeak rates, when they would normally charge me OffPeak rates.
(This only applies in mid-Winter or during many days of clouds when my banked electricity is fully used. At that point, I buy from the grid at MidPeak instead of OffPeak rates.)

NetMetering does Not cost Utilities - it helps their finances.