Net metering policy offers small incentives

The public consultation period on the Yukon's draft net-metering policy closed last Friday. Comments were mixed.

The public consultation period on the Yukon’s draft net-metering policy closed last Friday.

Comments were mixed.

Yukon residents see the proposal as a step in the right direction, rewarding those who pursue renewable energy alternatives.

But it’s unclear whether the policy offers enough incentive to create any serious change.

Under the draft policy, residents generating power through renewable sources – such as solar systems, wind power, micro-hydro or biomass – can feed surplus energy into the grid.

A bidirectional meter installed at the home or business would record this output.

Residents would be paid for the energy they’re providing. Well, sort of.

The amount is recorded and given as a credit on your electric bill.

When the average rate per kilowatt hour is around 10 cents, residents don’t stand to save a lot of money from the program.

Especially when current renewable energy technologies are so expensive.

A reasonable-size solar system, producing two kilowatts, would cost about $14,000.

“Someone who’s wealthy might look at the cost of that investment and say, ‘No big deal,’” said J.P. Pinard, a local energy expert and a member of the Canadian Wind Energy Association.

“But I don’t suspect that a lot of people will feel that way.”

If the government is serious about the project, then more rewards should be offered for feeding into the grid, said Pinard.

Especially when the hydroelectric dam is running at capacity and Yukon Electric is burning diesel fuel.

Diesel costs the territory about 30 to 35 cents per kilowatt hour, said Pinard.

And these amounts will rise with the price of oil, which will increase over time.

The Yukon government is reviewing the comments and will consider its options while reviewing the policy, said Manon Moreau, a senior planner at Energy, Mines and Resources.

It’s unclear when the policy will be put in place, but it will be frequently assessed and changed as needed.

“And it’s not the last time that the public’s going to be providing us comments or engaging us about net metering,” she said.

“We kind of see this as the beginning.”

The net-metering policy is part of the Yukon’s energy strategy, which was announced January 2009.

The profit-driven – and problematic, based on experiences in other jurisdictions – policy for independent power producers is still being drafted.

Contact Chris Oke at

chriso@yukon-news.com

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