The Solar Electricity for Community Buildings Pilot Program

The Solar for Community Buildings Program enables eligible community groups and organizations to generate up to 75kW of solar photovoltaic (PV) electricity on their roofs or properties and sell it to their utility under a 20-year contract.

The 2018 program application period has closed.

This is a pilot program run by the Nova Scotia Department of Energy. The program’s goals are to

  • support community participation in renewable energy generation
  • learn more about how solar electricity can help Nova Scotia continue its clean energy transition

The program will reopen for applications in 2019.

Eligible groups and organizations are invited to submit an application for review. In your application, you propose the price at which you want to sell the electricity generated by your project. You determine your price by first completing the workbook. The workbook guides you through the calculations needed for your application as well as eligibility considerations.

Eligible organizations include:

  • Mi’kmaq bands in Nova Scotia
  • registered non-profit or charitable organizations, including churches
  • municipalities or organizations wholly owned by a municipality
  • universities or Nova Scotia Community College

As per the regulations, the intention is to distribute successful projects both geographically across the province and between eligible groups.

Buildings and ownership

The program works on a one application per building process. Eligible organizations must submit separate applications for each suitable building. You may not lease space on a building for the sole purpose of participating in the program.

You do not have to own your building to participate in the program; however, you will need to consult the building’s owner and obtain written permission. The building’s owner should be aware of the size, timing, funding model and construction impact of the project.  You will need to agree on what will happen to the installation if your organization moves to a new building.

The contract with your utility contains a clause to allow you to pass on the contract in the case that your organization needs to move or sell. There may be a change to the rate paid for electricity if the new owner is not eligible for the program.

Size and sites for your project

There is no minimum requirement for the size of your project. Larger installations will likely be able to set a more competitive price, however organizations are welcome to apply for any size installation to a max. of 75kW.

Solar PV can be installed on your roof, or on property within 100m of your building on adjacent structures (such as a parking garage) or the ground.

Note: You must not clear forested or agricultural land to make space for the panels.

Costs and benefits

Under ideal conditions, a well-sited solar array produces about 1,100 kWh every year for each kW of panels. If you constructed a 20 kW solar array, and sold your electricity for 25 cents per kWh, you would make around $5,500 each year from your utility.

The cost of buying and installing solar PV equipment for this project can range from $20,000 to over $200,000 and there are other costs as well. You must be in a position to finance all project costs.

Check out the Bid Price Estimating Tool (Excel 19KB) to explore what may work for your organization.

Data collection

Data such as solar production, construction costs, geographic area, and building orientation of successful projects will be collected and made public on the Nova Scotia Government’s Open Data web page.

Obligations

There is no obligation to install your system once the contract has been awarded to your organization. We simply ask that you inform us so that your capacity can be recycled back into the next cycle of awards.

Program timeline

The program will run over three years, with the final intake occurring in 2019. If chosen for this program, you will sell electricity to your utility under a 20-year power purchase agreement.

Contact us

Questions about the program

Send your questions about the program to

Technical questions

If you have technical questions about interconnections, metering, inverters, or sizing requirements, you can contact or your municipal utility.