Net metering program faces increased criticism from NDP and solar sector

The net metering program for solar energy debate continued at the provincial legislature Thursday.

While NDP leader Ryan Meili said the current net metering program, which sees no generation cap or end date, is killing the solar industry in Saskatchewan, SaskPower minister Dustin Duncan said this is to react to what he calls an anomaly of customers looking at renewable energy.

Duncan said if SaskPower gained the same number of customers they did over the last 10 months, the Crown would lose $54 million in revenue from the customer base, passing on the cost to the consumer.

“For every residential customer, for every small commercial, or small industrial, or farm customer that is generating their own electricity, today they are a net loss in terms of revenue,” Duncan said. “That would just grow over time the more customers that were added under the current system.”

Duncan said with the previous system, those who do not produce their own power would see more and more rate increases from SaskPower.

“I just don’t think that is a fair system,” Duncan said. “I’m hopeful that the industry can still move forward and be able to sell their potential customers on a product that is still one of the shortest payback periods in Canada.”

However, Meili said participation in this program was not an anomaly.

“Across the province, people want to be part of the movement to renewable energy, people want to have solar, they want to be doing net metering, there’s a huge appetite for it.”

Several solar companies have come forward to say the current net metering program, which comes into effect November first, would lead them to lay off workers due to lost revenue.

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