Ontario Government Pushes for Net-Metering

Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty set a target of reducing Ontario’s energy consumption by five percent by 2007, and called for development and implementation of net-metering as part of his government’s plan to create a culture of conservation and make Ontario a North American leader in energy efficiency.

Toronto, Canada – April 23, 2004 [SolarAccess.com] “If we don’t act soon, Ontario will face an energy crisis — and simply building more generation is not going to be enough to meet the challenge,” said Premier McGuinty. “Our government will provide the leadership that creates opportunities for savings, but we’re asking Ontarians — from all walks of life — to make good decisions about how they use energy.” The government’s conservation plan includes: – Developing regulations to provide province-wide access to net-metering, which enables homeowners and businesses generating renewable electricity to receive credit for the excess energy they produce – Creating an Ontario Power Authority that will include a Conservation Secretariat led by a Chief Conservation Officer – Launching a public education and outreach campaign, including town hall meetings, to encourage conservation – Setting aggressive targets to put smart meters into every home by 2010, with an interim target of 800,000 meters in place by 2007 — together with more flexible pricing, this would allow Ontarians to save money if they run appliances in off-peak hours – Allowing local distribution companies to begin investing approximately $225 million for local, community-based conservation programs The net-metering component may not mean much to those who don’t know what it is, but it means a lot for proponents of renewable energy who see it as crucial to making solar photovoltaic systems infinitely more practical for your average homeowner or busineses. “The announcements yesterday are a starting point for Ontario, and Canada, to recapture the leadership role it held in solar energy back in the 1970s,” said Rob McMonagle, Executive Director of the Canadian Solar Industries Association (CanSIA). The introduction of smart meters and net metering is an important step towards an increased contribution of solar for Ontario’s energy needs, said the association. “By combining net metering and smart meters,” said McMonagle, “PV owners can double or even triple their investment returns. Ontario also gets high-quality green electricity during the middle of the day where electricity is being produced by dirty, high priced coal plants or imported from outside of Ontario.” Solar collectors produce the most of their energy in the middle of the day during the summer months when the demand for electricity is the highest in Ontario. “If people pay more for electricity when the demand is highest then the value of solar increases exponentially,” says Rob McMonagle. “Solar hot water heatersýbecome really attractive when homeowners know that they’d be paying significantly more for electricity from the utility during the same sunny hours. Net metering, points out McMonagle, is a starting point but will not allow Ontario to match the growth rates solar electricity is experiencing in other nations until there are some financial incentives. CanSIA is encouraging the Ontario government to ensure that net-metering customers will also have the opportunity to send their green electricity back to the grid at the flexible pricing scale being set up with the smart meters. In order to lead by example and help pioneer energy-saving ideas, Premier McGuinty has asked the provincial government to reduce its own electricity consumption by 10 per cent by 2007. “Ontario faces a real energy challenge — that’s why it’s so important to create a genuine conservation culture,” said Premier McGuinty. “Our government’s plan recognizes that none of us is as strong as all of us. Together, we’ll save energy, save money and save the environment to create a sustainable future and a higher quality of life for all.”

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