Renewable energy and you: What the net-metering policy means for your bill

It's a term you'll be hearing frequently in the coming weeks, but what exactly is "net metering"?

The Newfoundland and Labrador government announced May 19 that the PUB had approved a net-metering plan, making this the last province in Canada to implement one.

"Newfoundland and Labrador is finally joining the party," said Nick Mercer, a PhD candidate from this province studying renewable energy at the University of Waterloo.

Applications will be accepted as of July 1, but there is limited information so far on Newfoundland Power or Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro's websites.

So, what exactly is it?

Essentially, net metering makes it legal for residents and businesses to install renewable energy equipment on their property, while hooking into the utility-owned infrastructure.

"You can build your own small-scale wind turbine, solar panel, you can put them on your home," said Mercer. "You can produce your own electricity which you'll use in your house, and when you produce excess electricity that you don't need, you can sell it through the grid to your neighbours and other businesses in the area.

"So it's a way to encourage renewable energy development and to help people save a little bit of money."

How much would this cost?

When it comes to installing solar or wind energy equipment, prices vary, depending on the system you're looking for.

An average solar panel system for a home in this province is estimated to cost $20,000 and has an average lifespan of 20 years. That doesn't include fees associated with hooking into the utility.

But Mercer said in the last couple of years, prices for solar panels have significantly dropped, while the technology has been developing quickly. Wind turbines tend to come at a higher cost, given the need for installing larger infrastructure.

"The net metering policy doesn't put any restrictions on the type of renewable energy that you're going to use," said Mercer.

"It can be solar, it can be wind, it can be geothermal. There's a whole continuum of options — wherever on the Earth you can find movement you can try to harness that electricity through net metering."

But the policy coming into effect is not intended to encourage renewable energy development, Mercer added, so expect to generate enough power to offset your own needs.

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"It's more set out to achieve environmental goals and it's more intended as a hobby, as an interest, as something to pursue, not something to create profit."


Source :

Smart Grid Bulletin February 2019

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