Wednesday, 06 September 2017 15:03

City of Swift Current to start buying green energy under Small Power Producer Program

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The City of Swift Current is set to start buying renewable energy for the electrical distribution grid under the Small Power Producer Program.


The rate at which green energy will be purchased from small producers was set at a regular council meeting, Aug. 28.
A motion determined the City’s Light and Power division will purchase energy under this program at a rate of 10.82 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh). This rate will be increased annually with two per cent.
SaskPower and the City of Saskatoon also operate a Small Power Producer Program and the City of Swift Current will use the same purchase rate as the other two programs.
Mitch Minken, the City’s general manager of infrastructure and operations, said the City recently received the first application to enter this program, which resulted in this motion at council to determine the rate for purchasing power from a producer.
“We didn’t move forward with the Power Producer Program previously, because we didn’t have anybody interested in it and so we waited until we have someone and now we do,” he said.
The proponent will produce power through a solar installation that will be located in Swift Current.
“I believe around 15 kilowatts,” he said. “That’s enough to power maybe four, five homes.”
The Small Power Producer Program allows an individual or a business to use a renewable or clean source to generate and sell electricity to Light and Power.
“So they’re not intending to offset their use with the generation, but actually generate and provide electricity for the Light and Power utility,” he explained. “This is the first time that we’ve got an installation of a substantial amount that the proponent is wanting to just generate and sell back to the utility, which we’re happy to do. It’s coming from a renewable source and it’s cost competitive with what we pay our wholesaler, SaskPower, for the electricity that we get from them. So it’s sort of a neutral transaction and we’re happy to support it.”
There is a limit on the size of the installation that will be allowed under this program. Applicants can only generate up to 100 kW from each project.
“It could be typically solar within the city,” he said. “Certainly within the residential areas of the city it would have to be solar. It could be a wind source if it were out in the industrial area. Geothermal is a possibility as well. It’s intended to capture all of those renewable opportunities.”
The City is already offering another renewable energy program to residents. The net metering program currently has about four customers. This program is aimed at residents who are using solar power to generate energy for their own household, but who wants to receive a credit for any additional green power generated by their installation.
“They would use it for their own use and any excess would be sort of put in a bank for use by them in the future,” Minken said. “So when the sun is not shining at night and the lights are on you can draw from that bank and in the end usually when you get to the end of the year cycle it comes out fairly neutral or usually these are small enough installations that those people are still paying a little bit to the utility, but have taken advantage of the opportunity to generate some of their own.”
Light and Power will install a bi-directional meter at their home to measure any excess electricity send to the grid. A household will receive monthly credits for any electricity send to the grid. These credits can be carried over to the following month, when it will be applied against a household's electricity consumption for that month, but all credits must be used within the annual cycle that ends in March.

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Matthew Liebenberg

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