Aaron Hansen of Stratford, PEI has been watching what is happening with a proposed new change for solar customers in Nova Scotia.
Hansen installed a 15 kilowatt rooftop solar system just over a year ago.
His monthly electricity bill of $315 was replaced by a payment of $242 for his solar panels.
But he said he had no regrets. He said he would see the real benefits when the panels are paid for in 10 years, as long as the deal with Maritime Electric doesn’t change.
“Hopefully that doesn’t happen here,” Hansen said.
“With governments pushing towards net zero, they should erect no barriers to [disincentivize] people to install solar energy.”
Nova Scotia Power had requested a new “network access charge” of $8 per kilowatt per month on net-metered installations.
This would mean that a customer with a 10 kilowatt solar system, which generates about $1,800 of electricity per year, would have to pay back $960 to Nova Scotia Power.
On Wednesday, Nova Scotia Premier Tim Houston said his government would pass laws to stop the Nova Scotia utility from implementing the new charge, prompting the company to announce that it would remove the proposed charge from its current tariff application.
We have no immediate plans to make any changes.— Kim Griffin, Maritime Electric
Prince Edward Island Energy Minister Steven Myers said he had not received any indication that Maritime Electric wanted a similar rate change, but said that if they proposed one, he would block it.
More than 2,000 rooftop solar systems have been approved on the island, around half of which are already operational.
“We’re encouraging people to do this and we want to continue to encourage people to do this, but I’ve had a lot of people contact me since this situation in Nova Scotia started fearing this could happen. here,” Myers said.
“We would probably do the same as the Nova Scotia government, where we would act to block it. In good faith, we told people that was the deal when they put solar on rooftops , that we had a net metering program . Whoever has it, we will honor that commitment.”
No immediate change plan
Kim Griffin, a spokesperson for Maritime Electric, said she didn’t have many details about Nova Scotia Power’s proposal, but at this point the PEI-based private utility -Édouard does not envisage any changes for its solar customers.
Griffin said what is not known is how many other islanders will sign up for solar.
“You know, if we’re in a situation where more and more people are doing this, it’s certainly an opportunity to not only consult with our customers, but also to look at the infrastructure changes that we would need to make. bring across the island to support that,” Griffin said.
“Is it something we’re looking at? Is it something that’s a consideration? It is. But there are also a lot of other things that are to be considered and we wouldn’t be a good public service if we weren’t looking at that. But we don’t have any immediate plans to make any changes.”
In an ongoing application for a general rate increase to the Island’s Regulatory and Appeals Board, Maritime Electric argued that increased use of solar energy would result in higher rates for everyone, because it asserts that net metering customers do not pay all of the fixed costs associated with providing their service.
The utility said it may come up with a new rate structure for solar customers in the future.
“The Company will continue to monitor the number of solar installations added to the system each year and will consider the resulting implications for future rate design applications,” Maritime Electric said in its application.
Myers said the province wants to continue expanding its green energy initiatives and is already considering home energy storage, microgrids and smart meters. He said the province is prepared to make its own investments in smart meters to “help alleviate some of the situations that arise when people generate their own renewable energy.”