Regina — If you produce excess power, SaskPower will pay you for it instead of just getting a credit. However, generous subsidies to install equipment like solar panels are at an end.
SaskPower announced on Oct. 15 it plans to launch its updated net metering program for customers who want to generate their own power and connect to the power grid, effective November 1.
When unprecedented demand caused the previous version of the program to hit its 16-megawatt (MW) cap two years earlier than expected, SaskPower paused the program to do a review and revise it to ensure long-term financial sustainability.
Premier Scott Moe posted on Facebook, “We promised certainty for self-generated solar power would come in weeks, not months, when unprecedented demand for the original net metering program caused it to hit its 16MW cap two years earlier than expected.”
“SaskPower has developed a net metering program that will provide self-generation opportunities and support local industry for years to come,” said Dustin Duncan, Minister Responsible for SaskPower, in a press release. “While large, utility-scale projects are by far the most economical way to add renewable energy to the grid, net metering will remain another tool in the toolbox as SaskPower works to meet its target of reducing greenhouse gases 40 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030.”
Changes from the previous program include no limit on program capacity, no program end date, and no specified contract length. With the relaunch of the net metering program, there will no longer be a Government of Saskatchewan rebate on capital equipment and installations across the province.
“We know there is growing demand for solar self-generation in Saskatchewan,” said Mike Marsh, SaskPower president and CEO. “The updated program provides certainty and clarity for our customers who want to net meter while reducing the financial impacts on customers who do not have solar panels.”
The net metering program allows customers to generate up to 100 kilowatts of power to decrease their monthly power bills and get credit for the excess power they generate. Under the updated program, customers will still be able to offset their energy use at their retail rate while their systems are generating. Any excess energy sent to the grid will be credited at 7.5 cents/kilowatt-hour against the customer’s energy charge. The price reflects SaskPower’s average cost of energy for 2020 and 2021.
Customers participating in the previous net metering program will be grandfathered under their current contract as long as there are no changes to their projects. At the end of the contract, these customers will become part of the new program.
NDP Leader Ryan Meili has called on Premier Moe to reverse the cut to the net metering program and immediately return to the previous 1:1 net metering credit rate.
"Scott Moe is killing a successful industry that’s our best hope for addressing climate change," said Meili. “For the sake of the 800 jobs at stake, and for the sake of the climate, we’re calling on Premier Moe to fully restore the net metering program.”
Meili also recommitted to implementing his “Renew Saskatchewan” program, which would see the province cover the up-front cost of retrofits and clean energy installations for homes and businesses, to be paid back out of the savings.
“We can create good jobs and reduce people’s bills while reducing emissions, said Meili. “Instead we’ve got a government that’s letting people down by dragging its feet on climate change and cutting successful programs.”
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