How Solar PV Works with BC Hydro-Net Metering

The BC Hydro-Net Metering program allows for homeowners and business owners to generate electricity to offset their electricity needs, using renewable energy sources such as solar power, wind power and water power (micro-hydro). “Net metering” generally means that at each billing period (e.g. every two months with BC Hydro) the net consumption is used to create the bill. For example, in one billing period, if a customer generating solar power were to export into the grid the same amount of power as they used in that period (“net zero consumption”), the consumption-related charges for that bill period would be as though the customer didn’t use any power from the grid. BC Hydro net-metering is a better deal than most other utilities/provinces have in Canada for solar photovoltaic (PV) power generating customers because of BC Hydro billing approach attributes the same value to the energy used from the grid by customers and the energy used by the grid generated by customers. In other areas with similar programs that allow grid-connected power generation, such as in Alberta “micro-generation” program, the utilities attribute a higher value to the energy used from the grid by customers than the value of the energy used by the grid generated by customers. Residential customers have a “conservation rate 1101” with BC Hydro that has a tiered power price to encourage customers to use less energy. If a customer uses more than 1350kWh in a 2-month billing period (~675kWh/month), the portion of power consumption above 1350kWh is billed at a higher price than the first 1350kWh. If a customer uses enough power to reach the higher priced tier, then solar PV power generated would reduce the energy costs at the higher tier price first, before reducing energy costs at the lower price tier. Any excess (net-positive) solar power exported to the grid in the billing period would be applied to future bills as kWh (not as $), which could reduce energy in both of the higher and lower price tiers in those later months. If a net-metering customer has a remaining excess generation credit at the end of the year (customer’s net-metering anniversary year) then BC Hydro pays the customer for the excess credit, at a rate of $9.99 cents/kWh. For more energy rate details, see the summary table “2018 BC Hydro Electrical Energy Rates”.

BC Hydro-Net Metering Program Eligibility

The criteria for participating in the net-metering program with BC Hydro are: ● Power generation comes from a clean or renewable resource such as solar photovoltaic (PV), wind power, or hydropower. ● Maximum power generation system size is 100kW, for example, 100kW solar photovoltaic system. ● The power generation system is sized to produce no more than the customer’s annual power consumption. ● The solar photovoltaic (PV) power generation system must be under 100kW (PV watts). ● The power generation system must be connected to the BC Hydro power distribution grid. (Note: About 95% of power-grid customers in British Columbia are BC Hydro customers. Outside the BC Hydro serviced areas are parts of the Okanagan (including Kelowna) and the City of New Westminster.

Solar PV Economics with BC Hydro-Net Metering

Economics vary based on details like geographic location, array tilt, shading, electrical service size, service voltage, and site electrical loads profile, but here are some sample economics for adding solar PV for different billing rate structures with BC Hydro customers: – Residential customers who typically consume most of their grid power in the first tier energy price (e.g. customers who typically use less than 1350kWh each 2-month billing period) could achieve marginal positive rates of return on investments, due to relatively low energy rates in the first tier price, and the small scale of the system. – Residential customers who typically consume most of their grid power in the second tier energy price (e.g. customers who typically use more than 3500kWh each 2-month billing period) would have an attractive rate of return on investment as their solar power generation would offset grid-power consumption at the higher price tier. – Small-size business customers could achieve a very attractive rate of return on investment by offsetting a relatively high power price and benefiting from a more economical installation cost through economy of scale. There are some additional unique opportunities available for small business customers that we’d be happy to share with you. (Small General Service, <35kW demand). – Medium-size business customers could achieve an attractive rate of return on investment with a balance of moderate energy price, and installation costs improving from economies of scale. (Medium General Service, 35kW-150kW demand). – Large-size business customers who are able to run their heaviest loads only when the sun is shining to allow PV to shave the peak demand charge could achieve a marginal positive rate of return on investment. Returns are lower due to the low energy price per kWh for this size of customer. (Large General Service, >150kW demand) – Steve Gladwin