REGINA -- SaskPower is introducing a new net metering program for solar customers starting next month.

The old program was shut down in September after reaching its capacity two years ahead of schedule.

Minister Responsible for SaskPower Dustin Duncan spoke to CTV Morning Live on Tuesday about the changes to the program.

"We've seen a little bit of growth in the program over those first number of years and then this last 10 months, we basically added 16 Mw of capacity, which was about the same amount that we added in the first 10 years of the program," Duncan said. "We knew that if this type of growth continued, that really poses a challenge for a company like SaskPower where you're really transferring the cost of keeping up the grid, the generation, transmission, distribution, you're really shifting that to people that cannot afford solar panels."

The old program offered a subsidy of 20 per cent of the capital costs of the panels, up to $20,000. It also had a one-to-one ratio for any excess energy produced and returned to the grid. Customers used to receive the retail price for any excess power, currently at 14 cents per kWh.

Duncan said that program wasn't sustainable for the Crown corporation.

The new program introduced earlier this month eliminated the subsidy and changed how much customers will receive for excess energy.

"You're still saving 14 cents a kWh when you're not paying SaskPower," Duncan said. "For the excess energy that you are producing, you're going to get 7.5 cents a kWh for the first two years."

According to Duncan, SaskPower needs to make sure there is still power generating, transmitting and distributing through its system, even when solar panels aren't producing energy.

"Changing the net metering, that one-to-one ratio, all that's really going to do is lengthen the amount of time it's going to pay for your system," Duncan said.

Duncan said the old program would take about 10 years to generate enough credit to pay for the solar panel installation.

With the new program, it will take about 16 years.

Duncan added the updated program still allows customers to save what they're paying to SaskPower and have a green energy option.

Applications for the new net metering program open Nov. 1.