Town to begin work on Net Metering Solar Program for Electric Utility

At its regular monthly public meeting held on April 24, Town of Antigonish Council passed a motion directing staff to review the regulations of the Antigonish Electric Utility to empower a net metering program for customers of the utility. Generally speaking, net metering is an electricity metering and billing practice that enables consumers to generate electricity from renewable, low-impact, generators (like solar panels) to off-set part or all of their own electrical requirements. “We want to give our electric rate-payers options,” noted Mayor Laurie Boucher. “We want people to have the option of reducing their carbon footprint while also reducing their overall energy costs.”

Since the April meeting, staff have been reviewing and developing potential program structures and implementation plans, regulatory requirements, the operational aspects of this change, and the process for introducing this change to the Utility. The program review, at this stage, is only giving consideration to the introduction of solar panels.

The Town’s Utility is proposing to “buy back” any excess energy generated by a customer who installs solar panels on their home at the same rate they would purchase energy from NSPI (net zero). Excess self-generation, over a customer’s own-consumption needs, is credited against purchased energy for billing purposes over a period of one year. Any surplus generation remaining at the end of a one year period will be purchased by the Utility at the rate at which the Utility purchases from Nova Scotia Power, Inc.

Staff will begin developing the program by first conducting a scan of similar programs across the province and drafting a set of regulations that would allow the Utility to implement a net metering program. “Through this early stage,” noted Chief Administrative Officer, Jeff Lawrence, “we have to conduct an analysis of our own set of circumstances and consider all the factors that may need to be taken into account so that the regulations we put in place meet the needs of our Utility and our rate-payers.” Part of that analysis will include a rate study. Mr. Lawrence stated that a rate study will need to investigate how the fee structure of a net metering program will impact base charges and consumption charges that are currently in place. “This information is important as it will help us to ensure that the introduction of the program does not negatively impact our utility or our rate-payers,” he said.

Finally, the Town will have to investigate the issue from an operational perspective. With the introduction of new equipment and regulations, the Town will need to take steps to ensure that all Utility staff are well-versed on the technical aspects of what is involved in solar initiatives.

As a public utility, any changes to the Town’s electrical regulations and fee structures each must be reviewed and approved by the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board. Once the reviews have occurred and the regulations are prepared, the Town will have to go before the Board to present their case to introduce the program into their regulations. “This step can take time,” noted Chief Administrative Officer, Jeff Lawrence, “and, as you can see, in order to do our proper due diligence, these programs can not be put in place over night.” In the best-case scenario, the Town is hoping to have the program in place by early 2018.

While the program may take time to develop, Council believes the progressive direction of the Utility is a step in the right direction. “With the success, we have already experienced with the Alternative Resource Energy Authority (AREA) windfarm, we think this program is one more way the Town is demonstrating its commitment to a more sustainable energy future,” said Mayor Laurie Boucher.

More Information

For more information or media inquiries, please contact:

Mayor Laurie Boucher

Ph. 902-867-5577; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

Jeff Lawrence, CAO

Ph. 902-867-5576; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

 

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Town of Antigonish
274 Main Street
Antigonish, Nova Scotia
Canada B2G 2C4

Phone: (902) 863-2351
Fax: (902) 863-0460 / (902) 863-9201

Town Hall hours: 8:30 am - 4:30 pm

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