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Author Topic: Net metering policies  (Read 221 times)

numerobis

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Net metering policies
« on: July 14, 2017, 03:42:50 PM »
Excellent news: QEC (Nunavut's power company) has announced it's moving forward on a net metering program.
http://www.qec.nu.ca/node/759

My interpretation:
  • This applies only to residential customers.
  • Month by month you get net metering, paying as little as zero for electricity. You still pay per day for being on the grid. A thing about Canadian tax law, you pay GST on the electricity you buy, but you don't collect it on the electricity you sell, so IIUC, "net metering" is really just "up to 95% off". That's not clearly spelled out. Still, 95% off is a lot off.
  • If you overproduce, it rolls over to the next month, but it gets zeroed out at the end of March. So e.g. if you overproduce in spring and summer, but underproduce in fall, you will still get 95% off your electricity charge.
  • Max 10 kW.
  • Max 7% of the grid (measured at its annual peak demand).
  • For any renewables, not specifically for solar (but solar is the most realistic right now).

Thoughts?

Why this makes financial sense: Residential charges are about C$0.30 - C$0.40 per kWh here (depending whether you're a land claims agreement beneficiary or not), plus/minus a fuel surcharge. Diesel fuel alone in Iqaluit at current prices is about C$0.25/kWh. Adding in maintenance, it looks to me that the variable costs roughly match the residential charges in Iqaluit. In the communities, which are 2/3rds of the electricity demand, the costs are higher (more $/litre of diesel, and more litre/kWh, and more expensive to send parts) but revenue is identical. The utility definitely wins there.

The actual cost overall, including maintenance and capital and administration, is estimated at a minimum of $0.60/kWh in Iqaluit, up to about $1.20/kWh in the most expensive communities. But that's a funny figure: some is a fixed cost no matter how much energy is generated (and the fixed administrative costs go *up* not down with net metering), some is a capital cost that depends on peak demand, not on the average demand. It doesn't tell you much about the cost of electricity that net metering is avoiding.

I suspect the peak demand on the grid doesn't change when you use solar panels in Nunavut. I'd expect the peak demand every day to be around 6pm or so. In winter you'll get zero solar generation at that time, so there'll be no effect on the peak.
« Last Edit: July 14, 2017, 04:49:53 PM by numerobis »

Bob Wallace

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Re: Net metering policies
« Reply #1 on: July 14, 2017, 04:40:55 PM »
Net metering is not a workable system.  It's good for utility companies when there is little end-user solar on the grid (lowers the peak and lets them avoid purchasing very expensive peak supply). But once the peak is flattened it puts utilities in the position of having to accept low value supply and repay with more expensive power.


numerobis

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Re: Net metering policies
« Reply #2 on: July 14, 2017, 04:49:23 PM »
Bob, read the OP  ::)

lowers the peak

As I wrote: "the peak demand on the grid doesn't change when you use solar panels in Nunavut".

having to accept low value supply and repay with more expensive power.

As I wrote: "the variable costs roughly match the residential costs in Iqaluit" (I should have said "residential charges" though, I'll fix that)

ghoti

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Re: Net metering policies
« Reply #3 on: July 14, 2017, 06:05:47 PM »
I have to charge HST (GST) on the electricity I generate and sell to Ontario - that is actually required by the tax law if you (or your business) has a HST/GST  account. I then have to submit the HST collected to the feds.

Having the net amount zeroed out once a year is generally a bad deal. In Ontario it carries forward 13 months - still a bad deal unless your PV system is grossly under sized. My system is  only about 60% of the allowable size ( small roof with lots of obstructions) and I still generate 60% more electricity than I use. I have no idea how things balance out north of 60.

Odd thing in Ontario is that they stipulate they can restrict PV deployment if the capacity of PV on the local circuit exceeds 7% of BASE instead of peak load - an absurd restriction.

I am always upset by the charges for just being a customer but they seem universal.

numerobis

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Re: Net metering policies
« Reply #4 on: July 14, 2017, 06:29:31 PM »
A flat daily fee for having access to the grid makes total sense to me. You're using the grid to sell, and you're using it to buy, and you're using it as backup in case your equipment fails or in case it's winter. Even just being connected for backup seems to me like it's worth a few cents a day.

Interesting about the sales tax thing. I presume that's how it works here too. But most people don't register for GST (you don't need to until you have $30k in annual sales), so they won't charge GST on their sales -- they'll just pay it on their purchases.

Question: do you technically sell all your instantaneous production and buy it back, or do you sell just your net production? No difference to you either way, big difference to someone not registered for GST.

Having it reset end of March is presumably for ease of accounting at QEC HQ: that way they don't need to figure out how to price the liability at all, since they aren't carrying it on their annual books! A lot of things are done for ease of accounting here, e.g. internet monthly usage caps reset on the first for everyone in the entire city. Good luck getting any data through the satellites on the 30th.

But also, March is the second-best month for fixed solar panels (April barely edges it out). Afterwards the sun moves around so much your capacity factor falls. Zeroing out at the end of March is particularly annoying. Maybe it'll get changed with time.

Regardless, it's better than zeroing out once a month (which IIUC is how it is in many US jurisdictions), or daily, or, as it is until this policy goes into effect, continuously.

ghoti

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Re: Net metering policies
« Reply #5 on: July 14, 2017, 07:18:51 PM »
I actually don't net meter. I have a 20 year contract to sell all the power generated. The generated power goes through a separate bidirectional meter from the house consumption meter. The electricity consumed by the PV electronics isn't even net metered - I get charged for the roughly 1 kWh it uses every 2 months.

I get charged to be a customer twice even though I have only one set of wires connected to the grid. During the day time in the summer I don't really consume grid power since I use less than the power coming from the PV which is connected to the wires providing power to the house directly. It is not about their cost it is about their income.