Every aspect of Kris Currie’s home in New Dominion, P.E.I., was designed to minimize energy usage — from the thickness of the walls, to the position of the windows, to the choice of appliances, like a heat pump-powered clothes dryer.
Even the paint colour on the interior walls was chosen to reflect natural sunlight, so no lights have to be on during daytime.The result is what’s known as a “net-zero home,” meant to generate all the power it needs over a year from the 35 solar panels on the roof.
What Currie didn’t know when he built the home is that “net-zero” doesn’t apply when it comes to the HST.
Currie pays nothing to Maritime Electric for his electricity, but is still billed for the HST on every kilowatt hour used, just like any other customer.
“It’s nonsense really. It should be exempt,” Currie said. “We’re using it for heat, for one. Oil’s exempt. Now that we’re producing electricity we’re getting charged for it.”
Currie is part of P.E.I.’s net metering program, which allows individual homeowners to generate their own electricity, sending any excess into the grid in exchange for credits so they do not have to pay when they draw electricity back out of the grid.
Currie’s home generates more electricity than it uses, feeding the excess into P.E.I.’s electricity grid, where it is sold to other Maritime Electric customers.
Currie’s home is generating more electricity than it uses, feeding the excess into P.E.I.’s electricity grid, where it’s sold to other Maritime Electric customers — who pay HST on what they use.
For April, Currie’s bill shows he paid $13.49 HST on the 644 kilowatt hours of electricity he used.
In the winter, when his electricity used goes up, Currie pays $50 or $60 a month in HST.
Currie spent an extra $46,000, without government assistance, to build a net-zero home. He even paid HST on the solar panels and the labor to have them installed.
Currie spent the extra money because he wanted to cut his monthly bills and he wanted to reduce his family’s carbon footprint.
But the added tax means it will take longer for that investment to pay off.
The provincial government and Maritime Electric both told CBC News that federal tax law requires HST be charged to homeowners involved in net metering.