A resourceful and expansive Quebec family member has managed to shrink Hydro-Québec’s bill by several thousand dollars a year with solar power he produces at home and “sells” to Hydro-Québec.
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Sebastian Muniz is one of about 800 Hydro customers who sign up for “net metering,” which allows them to pump surplus electricity into the state-owned grid and receive credits in the form of kilowatt-hours in return. (kWh).
The owner of the restaurant by profession is also a handyman. He was already enjoying the small solar installations at home, in Montreal, before actually launching it, in 2019, in his chalet in Saint-Donat, in the Laurentians, where blackouts are frequent.
“I quickly realized that it was much more profitable to install a system capable of generating 240 volts,” says the solar enthusiast.
The investment was significant: nearly $35,000 for a 5,000-watt hybrid system with solar panels, battery, and inverter. “Once installed, it runs itself and you don’t have to do anything,” he glories.
His lover spends all summers in the chalet, where the couple also goes with their children of about 12 to 15 years old on winter weekends.
And when they are not there, the system continues to generate energy. So most of the time it is pumped into the Hydro-Québec network, resulting in significant savings.
“It’s more interesting for a second home,” says the man who saw his annual water bill drop from $5,500 to $1,200 in the cottage.
12 months ago, when the couple changed their main property to Montreal, it was only natural that they would replicate the system in their new home.
This time, the investment was $32,000 since Sebastian installed it himself. Sebastian agrees: “Of course there are savings to be made in the city, the only problem is where to put the panels.”
If placed on a flat roof, there are other options in town, such as the roof of a pergola, shed, or even the back facade of a building.
Hydro bill for a family’s first 14 months in their 5,000-square-foot home: $1,300. The ground floor is heated with a heat pump and the basement with electric panels.
Complex with Hydro
Sebastian Muniz has already helped five other people install their own solar power system in his community of San Donat.
If he’s a big supporter of the technology, he agrees the steps can be “no-nonsense” with Hydro-Quebec for net metering. “But it’s worth it,” he says.
At Hydro, they say the delays are necessary because of the steps that need to be taken. “Net metering involves installing equipment and injecting power into our network, so we need to ensure that nothing is left to chance,” a spokeswoman explained via email.
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