Expansion of wind credits too costly

PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND - PEI does not have the technology it needs to allow for an expansion of credits available to small-scale wind power producers, says Energy Minister Richard Brown.

Farmers and municipalities have been asking for the province to implement net billing, which would allow them to hook up several electricity accounts to a single wind turbine.

Energy Minister Richard Brown said PEI doesn't have the right technology yet to make this kind of development affordable and truly environmentally friendly. What is needed, he said, are smart meters.

These devices could tell Maritime Electric how much wind energy these turbines are creating, so the utility could reduce the amount of electricity it buys from New Brunswick.

Currently Maritime Electric is essentially buying electricity twice, paying credits to small-scale wind turbine owners for the energy they create, and continuing to buy what it always has from NB Power.

"It is very economical — net billing — for the person that has the windmill, but they are being subsidized by the general population that don't have windmills," said Brown.

"Either we're in this all together on our electric system, and we all share in the benefits of it. Or you go it alone."

Maritime Electric isn't planning to bring smart meters in at this time. Utility officials say it is expensive technology, that's just started to be used in other parts of the country. The utility is watching to see how well it works, and for the price of this technology to come down.



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