Billing rules stymie wind turbine use

PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND - A PEI wind turbine company says its sales would improve dramatically if the government would move on promised changes to allow net billing.

Net billing allows a private wind turbine to supply power to more than one account. Many large users of electricity on the Island, such as farms and municipalities, have more than one account with Maritime Electric. Under the current rules, if one of those users were to erect a wind turbine, they could only supply one of those meters with electricity.

The restriction is frustrating for Duane Gorman, vice-president of wind turbine manufacturer Gorman Controls. He believes his sales are suffering because of it.

"There's a lot of interest out there, and certainly it could have a significant impact for individuals, for municipalities, for farmers," Gorman told CBC News.

Gorman said he has been lobbying for the change for three years, but is getting nowhere despite promises from government officials.

"We've been told that it's going to happen in the next session, and to date it's still not happened," he said.

The delay also bothers Mike Nabuurs, executive director of the PEI Federation of Agriculture. He said right now buying a wind turbine isn't cost effective for most PEI farmers, even though they're paying the highest electricity rates in the country.

"It's difficult for them to make the investment if they can't get the return on it that will offset that initial cost," said Nabuurs.

"That's really the main barrier right now."

The town of Stratford has also been lobbying for the changes.

"It just puts off the time we can start accruing those savings, and start reducing our greenhouse gas emissions," said town administrator Robert Hughes.

Hughes said the town could save $1.3 million over 20 years if it could power all its buildings and facilities off one turbine.



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