Looking for wind storage in homes

SUMMERSIDE, PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND - The City of Summerside, PEI, is asking homeowners to buy a special heating unit to help them store wind energy the city is producing, and offering a break on electricity bills in exchange.

Currently Summerside is selling about 15 per cent of the energy from its wind turbines to New Brunswick, because there's no way to use all the electricity generated in the city. One factor is that the wind tends to blow more at night, when not as many people are using it.

At a recent council meeting, the city announced a new program asking homeowners to buy a special, ceramic space heater. The heaters use high-density bricks to store heat overnight that can be released to warm the house during the day.

City administrator Terry Murphy said the heaters are really no different than a furnace.

"The demand for the heat can be adjusted as you do today. In other words, you can set your thermostat at certain levels. It will be no different with this here," said Murphy.

But the heaters aren't cheap, about $2,000 each, so the city is offering a six-cent break on the first 2,500 kilowatt-hours as an incentive for those who buy them.

"We're looking at about $600 a year that could be beneficial to the consumer," said Murphy.

The city hopes the incentive will convince at least 100 homeowners to invest in one of the heaters in 2011.


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