Ontario Net Metering Legislation Revoked
In late September, the Ontario Government revoked proposed legislative changes that would have helped grow the renewable energy sector in the province. Two proposed regulations under the Ontario Energy Board Act, would have allowed for third-party ownership of net-metered facilities, as well as flexibility for virtual net metering pilot projects.
This is an unnecessary delay for the solar industry in Ontario. These two changes would have allowed for widespread adoption and participation in the renewable energy transition in the province.
Third Party Net-Metering
Net metering is a billing arrangement that allows for renewable energy to be produced and consumed in the same location. The Canadian Solar Industries Association provides a clear explanation on their website:
“In its simplest form, a net metering customer will generate their own solar electricity during the day, use what it needs to meet the requirements of the home (or other type of building), injects the rest into the electricity grid, and consumes from the grid when the solar is unavailable. The customer is then only billed for their net electricity use. If they generate more than they use in a month, they receive a credit to apply against next month’s bill. If the solar system generates less than the customer uses, they will see a charge on their bill.” (CanSIA, 2018).
Third party net-metering would allow for third party providers, such as the Ottawa Renewable Energy Co-operative, to own and operative net-metered renewable generation systems.
The Co-operative has found solutions to work around the revocation of this act, but is eager to see the proposed amendments go forward as soon as possible.
Virtual Net-Metering/Community Solar
Virtual net-metering, also known as community solar is seen by many in the Ontario solar industry as the most important development yet to come to the province. Similar to net-metering, community solar, would allow those without the financial ability or structural requirements to source renewable energy from a solar installation.
Through a Co-op like OREC, members would be able to buy into certain solar projects. These projects could be located in a fallow field in a rural community, or on the roof of a large building that has a very low electricity demand in the middle of a residential neighbourhood. Members would virtually “own” a portion of this project. They would receive the percentage of the renewable energy produced by their panels each month. On each participating member’s credits would appear on one’s monthly electricity bill, representing the amount of electricity their panels produced.
Both third party and virtual net-metering were scheduled to pass into law on October 1st. The Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO), as well as most local distribution companies, were ready or in the process of readying themselves for these changes. All that remains is for the government to allow for these regulations to take effect.
Until November 16th, individuals are invited to put forward suggestions for the Ontario government’s climate change plan. This is an opportunity to push for these renewable energy policies to be incorporated, allowing for the widespread adoption of solar, and the continuation of the renewable energy transition.