SOLAR POWER Customers with rooftop solar panels or other electrical generating systems will be able to tap into the municipality’s power grid through a net metering program. (Black Press file photo) Cowichan company GreenCoast Electric’s installation of 64 solar panels on the roof of the main building at a North Island resort will help the operators greatly reduce their dependence on hydro electricity.

Summerland relaunches net metering program

Event open house will be held Aug. 27 from 3 to 6 p.m in Arena Banquet Room

The municipality of Summerland will relaunch an initiative to allow residents with their own energy generating systems to connect to the community’s electrical grid and sell excess energy to the municipality.

The Summerland Distributed Generation (Net Metering) Program allows those with systems such as rooftop solar to have their systems functioning with the municipality’s grid.

“Solar energy is a simple, proven source of renewable energy, and the number of Summerland residents benefiting from solar on their property has been increasing dramatically in recent years,” said Mayor Toni Boot. “Investing in solar and other clean energy sources helps our customers reduce their utility costs, increases our community’s resiliency, and enhances the local economy. Summerland is proud to be a leader in promoting these technologies, and we are excited to welcome the community to our re-launch event to learn more about our net metering program.”

Tami Rothery, sustainability/alternative energy coordinator for the community, said interest in net metering has grown in recent years.

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In December, 2016, there were six residential properties in the net metering program. By August, 2019, that number had increased to 26.

While this is still a small fraction of Summerland’s total residential energy customers, it represents an increasing interest in the program.

“We’ve certainly seen a massive growth in the number of people moving forward with systems like this,” she said.

Those who connect to the net metering program can feed the surplus power they generate back into the power grid.

A typical Summerland home uses an average of 1,000 kilowatt hours a month or 12,000 kilowatt hours a year.

If the household energy system generates more than this amount, the first 12,000 kilowatt hours are purchased from the customer at the retail power rate, while the rest is purchased at the wholesale rate.

Rothery said receiving electrical power from customers can help to offset the monthly peak of electrical power, which can affect the amount the municipality must pay FortisBC for the power it receives.

Summerland residents with their own energy generation systems have had the opportunity to interconnect to the electrical grid through the District’s Distributed Generation (Net Metering) Program since 2015.

However, the program updates provide customers and installers with a simplified application process, up-to-date forms and guidelines, as well as a dedicated website at summerland.ca/netmetering to find information and resources to support their installations.

The program has been updated to include formalized rates for energy produced to provide clarity and consistency to customers returning excess energy to the grid.

The updated program allows customers to produce their own energy with small energy generation systems of 30 kilowatt hours or less that utilize a low carbon or renewable energy source.

Customers who produce more energy than their property consumes in any given month will have the excess energy rolled forward into the following month in the form of a credit where it will be applied at the retail rate. At the end of each calendar year, any credits remaining will be purchased at the wholesale rate.

Community members and solar installers are invited to attend the official program re-launch event to learn more about the updates to Summerland’s Distributed Generation Program and to connect with local area installers and subject matter experts. This drop-in open-house style event will take place on Aug. 27 from 3 to 6 p.m. in the Arena Banquet Room, with a short presentation by the District at 3:30pm, repeated at 5:00pm.

The event is free and no registration is required. Light refreshments will be provided and all attendees will be entered for door prizes. Solar installers interested in participating in this event and interacting with members of the Summerland community should contact the District to make arrangements.

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