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Use of net metering minimal in Newfoundland and Labrador to date

There have been only 11 applications to Newfoundland Power for net metering, nine of which have been approved.
There have been only 11 applications to Newfoundland Power for net metering, nine of which have been approved. - file photo

N.L. Hydro and Newfoundland Power say few clients involved since program introduced

Ten months since a net metering program for electrical power use was introduced to Newfoundland and Labrador, there has been little uptake by homeowners.

Newfoundland Power and Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro are required to file a report to the Public Utilities Board (PUB) each calendar year to update the energy regulator on use of the net metering program and issues arising.

Among other things, the regular reports are to help monitor for any risk of hitting the government’s maximum allowance of five megawatts of new, renewable power production — new, small wind and solar — in the province, for the purpose of net metering.

The first updates since the July 1 launch last year went to the PUB at the end of March, showing a total of 164.4 kilowatts in applications to both electrical utilities during 2017, with 156 kilowatts specifically under Newfoundland Power. It’s a far cry from the province’s upper limit.

Boiled down, by the end of 2017, eight applications had been filed to Newfoundland Power and seven were approved, allowing people to add a renewable power generator to their properties and begin net metering.

At the end of the year, no one had yet completed the addition, and started to offset their utility account.

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Updated numbers provided on Wednesday to The Telegram show net metering applications for homes have now reached 11 in total, with nine applications approved. There have also been five applications come in from commercial customers and three approved, but not for any generation of more than 100 kilowatts.

Net metering essentially allows customers to produce their own power and offset their overall power costs. If you use more energy than you produce in a month, you are charged the difference. If you produce more than you use, you avoid paying — the value of the surplus power for the month is banked as a credit and applied to future bills.

To date, the majority of homeowner applications have been for small, solar panel add-ons to properties in the St. John’s metro region.

Unlike Newfoundland Power, Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro hasn’t had any applications from residential customers to date.

The utility has received two applications for new wind power installations for communities, for the isolated electrical systems in St. Lewis and Ramea. Together, the two applications total about 8.4 kilowatts of newly installed generation. In both cases, the applications have yet to be approved.

In St. Lewis, Hydro has asked the proponent to install a means for Hydro staff to communicate with their wind project to shut it down when required by Hydro system operators. A similar requirement was mentioned for Ramea, where there was further review also required of an existing power purchase agreement with Frontier Power Systems, according to the PUB filing.

Natural Resources Minister Siobhan Coady was asked about the limited uptake on net metering during a line-by-line budget review for her department.

“We’re looking for more take up on that program,” she said.

NDP MHA Lorraine Michael noted there’s not much advertising on net metering to date.

Coady said it was a good point.

More on Newfoundland Power’s net metering program is available on the utility’s website.

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