In 2004, BC Hydro was planning a net metering program for residential and commercial customers. A representative explained to a public meeting:
BC Hydro has recently applied for net metering which means if you are a BC Hydro customer and have surplus power, you use what you need it and then sell the left-over power to BC Hydro. The size limit for net metering is 50 kilowatts.
The 2012 Commission Panel was of the view that the capacity of a Net Metering installation should be driven by considerations of economically available clean energy and not by the theoretical maximum capacity a homeowner may require. Further, given the emphasis placed on electrical self‐sufficiency and clean electricity generation by BC energy policy and legislation, the 2012 Commission Panel was of the opinion that encouraging participation by lowering barriers should be of primary importance.
In 2014, BCUC determined the net-metering limit should be doubled to 100 KW.
BC Hydro reported to BCUC in 2017 that 640 accounts using net metering had capacity of 3.8 MW, an increase of more than 500% in five years. The report stated:
BC Hydro’s Net Metering customers and stakeholders tell us they are satisfied with the program and it meets their needs. We are not currently considering modifications to the Net Metering program…
That was 2017; this is 2018.
To justify Site C, BC Hydro pretended that alternatives to new hydro power were expensive and unreliable.
In fact, cheap electricity created by wind and solar frightens the utility. It’s one thing for consumers to buy zero power from the grid but it is something else if those customers are regularly selling electricity to BC Hydro.
The utility fears rapid growth in net metering because the costs of producing alternative energy, macro or micro, are declining steadily, Indeed, BC Hydro disclosed this week that 1,330 customers are now involved in net metering. That doubles the number of a year ago.
With flat demand for electricity in BC, low prices in export markets and steadily rising deliveries from independent power producers (IPPs), BC Hydro has a surplus of both electricity and generating capacity.
The average revenue for each KWh sold to BC consumers increased 84% from the final quarter of calendar year 2005 to the same quarter in 2017, more than three times the inflation rate of 25%.
Given the current impoverished state of BC’s largest utility, its prices will continue rising rapidly while improved technology almost certainly will keep the cost of alternative power declining.
With those factors, BC Hydro worries the amount of power fed to the grid by net metering participants will expand substantially. As a result, they announced this week a change so the program will not be available to customers generating power beyond their own energy needs.
BC Hydro promises a later BCUC application for further changes to net metering. That will likely impose a major reduction in the price credited consumers who feed power into the grid.
We’re told the $11 billion Site C project is needed to meet growing demand for power. Meanwhile, the Net Metering Team moves to end new sources of clean power that, unlike the Peace River project, will destroy no lands or livelihoods.
From BC Hydro’s point of view, the net metering program has faults. The unit price credited for customer generation is equivalent to the standing offer program (SOP) offered IPPs. That is about three times the price BC Hydro realizes from exporting its surplus power and is double the selling price offered to heavy industries and potential LNG producers. Nothing can be done about IPP contracts, some of which last until 2075, but homeowners are easy picking.
The program also poses a threat to the company’s current and planned construction program. BC Hydro could not continue spending billions on new generating and transmission capacity when power can be produced without capital expenditure within the markets where it is used.
A 10 kwp solar pv system on your BC household rooftop costs $27.5k, generates 11,000 kwhrs of electricity/yr, about 60% of the power for a big house, for about $137/month amortized over 25 yrs. BCHydro charges you $130/month for the same. #bcpoli
— balirand (@trivcap) April 21, 2018
Note: At my house, we’ve averaged 1,000 KWh a month and paid BC Hydro $120 monthly, including all charges.
H/T to Motorcycle Guy for drawing my attention to the net metering subject.