Storing or Exporting Your Electricity
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When you generate your own electricity, you run into the problem of supply and demand. The sun isn't shining when you want to turn on your lights, for example, while your wind turbine may be creating more energy than you use during the night.
One solution is to use batteries to store the energy you produce. Since you'll be generating direct current, you'll need either DC appliances and lights or an inverter that will create the alternating current that conventional appliances demand.
The advantage of a battery system is that it makes you self-sufficient. If the power grid goes down, you can continue to draw electricity from your system. The drawback is the need to deal with corrosive battery chemicals and make sure your batteries are topped up and equalized regularly.
Alternatively, you can consider sending your electricity to the power grid. This avoids the cost of storage batteries and the need to maintain them, and if you sell your energy under the Feed-in Tariff (FIT) Program (formerly RESOP), it can potentially earn you revenue.
On the other hand, connecting to the grid is no simple matter, and you may have to pay for upgrades required to the distribution system to make a safe connection possible. And if the grid goes down, with most systems you'll be left in the dark, just like your neighbours without a renewable energy system.
If you choose this option, there are two possible arrangements to consider: net metering or selling through FIT.
Hydro One's Net Metering Program is available to Hydro One customers who generate electricity primarily for their own use from a renewable energy source using equipment with a total nameplate rating of 500 kW or less.
Under a net metering arrangement, any energy you don't use gets sent the grid. Conversely, when the skies are grey or the wind's not blowing you can take the energy you need from the grid.
Your utility will subtract the value of electricity you supply to the grid from the value of what you take from the grid. What you'll see on your bill is the net amount. While this arrangement can save you money, keep in mind that it won't generate revenue. Even if you send more to the grid than you take from it, your local distribution company won't pay you for the difference, although you can carry forward any excess generation credits for 12 months to offset the energy you use.
For an overview, see the Ontario Ministry of Energy's Net Metering in Ontario brochure.
Feed-in Tariff (FIT) Program
Alternatively, you can sell electricity to the grid through the Ontario Power Authority's Feed-in Tariff (FIT) Program, which covers wind, hydro, solar and bioenergy technologies.
Under FIT, you typically sell all your electricity to the grid at the contracted price and then buy back the energy you use at market prices. Since the contracted price can be substantially higher than the market price, this can be an economically attractive option for many farmers.
Under either scenario, you'll need to take certain steps before you can send electricity to the grid. Start by contacting your local distribution company (LDC) to discuss the project and apply for a connection impact assessment. You may also need to obtain a meter and/or set up a generator account.
Finally, you'll need to sign a connection agreement with your LDC.
Remember that any system that produces electricity can be potentially dangerous. Whether you choose a stand-alone system or one that is connected to the power grid, make sure it meets the Electrical Safety Authority's safety requirements.
The Canadian Standards Association has also developed design and installation requirements for many renewable energy technologies.
Publications and Websites
The Integration of Renewable Energy on Farms website discusses a number of other issues involved in sending electricity to the power grid, while the AgriEnergy Producers' Association of Ontario has produced helpful Grid Connection Guidelines, including costs and timelines for each step involved
For more information:
Toll Free: 1-877-424-1300