North

Nunavut opens door to renewable energy with new net metering program

The Government of Nunavut is starting a program to help people who create their own power using solar panels and wind turbines send excess energy to the community’s power grid.

‘We recognize the importance of reducing the reliance on diesel fuel,’ Johnny Mike

WWF-Canada's David Miller, minister Joe Savikataaq, minister Johnny Mike, and Bruno Pereira, president and CEO of QEC, sit during the first day of the summit Thrusday. 'The time is right,' said Miller about the possibility of renewable energy in Nunavut. (Sima Sahar Zerehi)

The Government of Nunavut is opening the door to renewable energy in the territory by helping people who create their own power using solar panels and wind turbines send excess energy to the community's power grid.

Under a new net metering program — which will come into effect in the spring — residents will get a credit on their energy bill for the excess power they generated using renewable sources.  

The announcement was made on the first day of a three-day summit on renewable energy in the Arctic hosted by WWF-Canada in Iqaluit.

"We recognize the importance of reducing the reliance on diesel fuel," said Johnny Mike, the minister responsible for Qulliq Energy Corporation.

Qulliq Energy is involved in preliminary discussion with the territorial government about buying power from businesses or investing in its own renewable technology. (Sima Sahar Zerehi/CBC)

Currently, Nunavut relies exclusively on diesel, an option that is both costly and dirty in comparison to solar or wind energy.

The net metering program will be for customers who generate up to a maximum of 10kW of power.

"There is a limitation for the system and how much it can accept," said Bruno Pereira, president and CEO of Qulliq Energy Corporation, explaining that one of the reasons for the limit is that it allows a number of people to take part in the program in each community, rather than just benefiting a single business.

Pereira added that Qulliq Energy is also involved in preliminary discussions with the territorial government about purchasing power from businesses, or investing in its own renewable technology options.

'The time is right'

WWF-Canada also took the opportunity on the first day of the summit to make an announcement about a $25,000 training fund to help make renewable energy a reality in Nunavut.

A diesel storage facility in Arviat. 'Diesel is dirty and it’s expensive,' Miller said. (WWF-Canada)

The money will help people in Nunavut use and maintain renewable energy options, including solar panels and wind turbines.

"We're hoping the kind of training that's available will help create jobs in local communities and also support the knowledge necessary for communities to choose renewables," said David Miller, WWF-Canada's president and CEO.

"The choice has to come from a community. It can't be imposed."

Miller said that the summit marks a critical moment for Nunavut when it comes to adopting green energy.

"The time is right," said Miller.

"Diesel is dirty, and it's expensive. And over time, renewable energy will help communities be sustainable economically, not just environmentally."

About the Author

Sima Sahar Zerehi is a reporter with CBC North. She started her career in journalism with the ethnic press working for a Canadian-based Farsi language newspaper. Her CBC journey began as a regular commentator with CBC radio's Metro Morning. Since then she's worked with CBC in Montreal, Toronto and now Iqaluit.

now