SaskPower stopping net metering program until review complete
SaskPower doesn't know how long the review will take
SaskPower is halting its net metering program after reaching the cap of 16 megawatts two years earlier than expected. It is conducting a review of the program, but couldn't say how long it would take.
The program credited customers back for extra energy they made and contributed to the grid. The credit was banked and carried forward month-to-month, for up to three years. There was also a rebate for up to 20 per cent of installation costs, up to a maximum of $20,000.
According to SaskPower, applications to the net metering program have increased 80 per cent since July.
"If SaskPower just maintained the net metering program as-is and just let it keep on running until 2025, that alone would require a seven per cent rate increase for our rate-payers, which would be borne by the rate-payers who don't have solar panels on their homes," Joel Cherry, spokesperson for SaskPower, said.
"When the sun isn't shining [net metering customers] are still taking advantage of the provincial grid and making use of our infrastructure ... however, they aren't necessarily paying for it."
Cherry said the review is meant to try and strike a balance between what is best for rate-payers and the company, including what programs can most efficiently lower its emissions. He said SaskPower is still working on other solar and renewable energy programs, and plans on adding 60 megawatts of power to the grid in the next couple years.
Customers had also been waiting for a shipment of bi-directional meters to arrive so their input could be measured properly. SaskPower tweeted Tuesday that the shipment had arrived.
Provincial NDP Leader Ryan Meili said this move could prevent people from transitioning to renewable sources of energy.
"We've got incredible opportunity, the best environment in the country for the production of solar energy," Meili told reporters Thursday.
"We're leaving so much on the table in terms of economic opportunity and the opportunity to be leaders in reducing our emissions in terms of how we produce electricity in this province."
Meili also said that reaching the cap this early speaks to the demand in people wanting to transition to renewable power.
"It's also evidence of a lack of ambition on the part of the Sask. Party to actually move us as far along as we should on the transition to renewable energy."
Meili's response to cost being an issue in keeping this program up was that it was a "failure of imagination and a failure of ambition" on the part of the government.
- A previous version of this story stated there was a $20,000 cap on the credit earned for energy contributed to the grid. In fact, the $20,000 cap is on the rebate available for 20 per cent of installation costs.Sep 20, 2019 11:29 AM CT
With files from Guy Quenneville