Solar City Halifax PACE Financing Program (Complete Guide 2018)

Since the pilot program launched in 2013, property owners in the Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM) have been able to access an innovating solar financing option called Solar City Halifax. The financing program allows you to go solar with $0 down and to repay your balance alongside your annual property tax bill.

This page gives a complete overview of the Solar City Halifax PACE Financing Program. Read from top to bottom, or select your preferred section by clicking on it below:

How It Works

Solar City Halifax is a voluntary financing option that allows you to cover the entire cost of your solar system with a $0 down, 10 year, 4.75% fixed interest ‘loan’*. Repayments are billed yearly (see Repayments Section for details) alongside your property tax bill.

This type of financing (a clean energy loan that is attached to your property, not you) is called ‘Property Assessed Clean Energy’, or PACE for short.

Solar City Halifax can be used to finance:

  • Solar Photovoltaic Systems
  • Solar Hot Water Systems
  • Solar Hot Air Systems

*Although the Solar City Halifax financing is not technically administered as a loan, but rather as a ‘Local Improvement Charge’, conceptually it is very similar – you must repay the balance used to finance your project, plus any accrued interest. We will continue to use the word loan in this guide for simplicity sake.

Eligibility

It should first be noted that the Solar City Halifax program is completely voluntary – you may decide to take advantage of it, but other financing options are always available.

In order to be eligible for the Solar City Halifax program, you must be in good standing on your:

  • Property taxes
  • City fees (garbage pickup, etc.)
  • Local Improvement Charges (road improvements, water/sewer installations, etc.)

Note that the program is only open to residential and not-for-profit property owners.

Repayments

Upon receiving your financing through Solar City Halifax, you will then be billed on an annual basis along with your property tax bill. The payment appears as a separate charge, titled ‘Local Improvement Charge’ (LIC), in the exact same way that you would be billed for road improvement or water/sewer upgrades.

All annual payments are due within six weeks of the billing date each year. However, you can arrange for bi-weekly or monthly payments through the HRM revenue department. Payments are accepted via debit, credit, cash, money order, and cheque.

Note that the 4.75% interest rate is applied to the principal on a daily basis. This means that paying off your Solar City Halifax loan over the course of a year will save you more money than if you wait until the end of the year.

You always have the option to repay the entire balance in full and without penalty.

Benefits

The main benefit of the Solar City Halifax program is that it allows you to overcome the main hurdle for most people interested in solar power: the upfront costs. And instead, spreads that cost over the course of 10 years on a fixed interest loan (4.75%).

The other major benefit is that the financing is attached to your property, not to you. This means that if you sell your home, repaying the Solar City Halifax loan will then be the obligation of the new property owners.

(This also means that the long term savings potential of your system will lie with them too)

The City of Halifax Website estimates that you can save:

  • $57,000 over 25 years by installing a solar photovoltaic system
  • $20,000 over 25 years by installing a solar hot water system
  • $6,000 over 15 years by installing a solar hot air system

Note that Solar City Financing is limited to 80% of your home’s assessed value.

Program Administration

The Halifax Regional Municipality Charter was amended in 2010 to allows for the creation of the Solar City By-Law which was passed in April 2012. The Solar City Halifax is been administered by the Regional Municipality of Halifax, specifically through the Solar City Program Office (902-490-6821).

According to HRM, the program is self-sustaining (user pays) and no financial burden is passed on to general taxpayers.

Note that Energy Efficiency Nova Scotia is currently offering support (separate from Solar City Halifax) to other municipalities looking to adopt PACE programs.

Getting Started

Getting started with Solar City Halifax is easy.

  1. Educate yourself about solar power
  2. Decide that you’re ready to go solar and request an estimate
  3. Apply to the Solar City Halifax program if that is your preferred financing option

Nova Scotia Solar Power Rankings

Nova Scotia Solar Power

We’ve ranked Nova Scotia as being the 9th best province in the country for solar power. Not just because of the Solar City Halifax program, but also because of high electricity costs and fantastic local installers.

All interested home and business owners and highly encouraged to read our Complete Solar Power Guide For Nova Scotia (Updated 2018).


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