Interconnections


Interconnection

Interconnection refers to the process and method for connecting your turbine to the utility grid.

Interconnection of small generators (like wind) is allowed in certain parts of Canada, and you will need to contact your utility to see if it is possible in your area. Note that interconnection is still a relatively new concept for many utilities and inspectors, and you should be prepared to invest time and energy in the process.

For example, in some cases electrical safety inspectors will require that additional equipment (such as a ground fault switch) be installed in order for a small wind turbine installation to be certified, which can end up creating more expenses than anticipated.

Interconnection rules will usually specify the following parameters:

Interconnection method. Specifies what standard may apply to connect the system, and what types of meters are required.
Technology and size restrictions. Determines which generation technologies are eligible for net metering, and specifies the maximum allowable rated capacity that can be connected to the system (systems above that threshold must connect in the same way as large generators).
Maximum total capacity. Defines the maximum power rating of all your aggregated distributed generation sources connected through one interconnection point.
Power quality. Governs the quality of the electrical signal your generation equipment provides into the grid, in order to maintain the quality standards necessary for maintaining the grid and selling to grid customers.
Safety. Places stringent safety requirements on your distributed energy generation equipment and your interconnection hardware and software. This sufficiently protects both your equipment and the grid during power spikes, surges, or blackouts suffered on either side of the interconnection point.

Net Metering

A net metering agreement is an administrative and billing agreement to track and bill the electricity you use from the grid and the electricity you store on the grid, allowing you to effectively ‘run your electrical meter backwards' to zero net electricity. This means if your renewable energy system produces more electricity during the day than you can use, you store that extra electricity on the grid until you need it later that night, on the weekend, or later that year.

Under a neter metering agreement, you can only store up to the same amount of electricity in the grid as you use from the grid in that billing period. During a billing period, if you store more electricity on the grid than you use from the grid, your utility does NOT compensate you (pay you) for it. Net metering is for reducing your electrical bill from the utility, NOT for selling a net amount of electricity to the grid.

Net metering can be established either by a utility or through legislation at a provincial government level. In many jurisdictions, net metering is considered a foundation for promotion of small wind and other distributed energy systems.

Since late 2003, more regional utilities in Canada have been developing and implementing net metering to allow customers to store some of their electricity on the national grid. Please call your local utility to find out their latest news.

Although net metering programs are reasonably common in North America, there are significant variations in their design from one jurisdiction to another. A net metering program will usually specify the following parameters:

Electricity price. Specifies the price per kilowatt-hour you will buy electricity from the grid, after your "stored" electricity has been subtracted from your electricity used.
Netting period. Specifies the period over which the net energy between generator and grid is calculated. The interval for netting and billing energy can range from monthly to annual.
Disposition of excess generation. Determines who "owns" the excess electricity you store on the grid but do not use within your netting period. Most utilities assume ownership of this excess, but some allow you to carry over a certain amount of your excess stored electricity into your next netting period.
Interconnection method. Specifies what standard may apply to connect the system, and what types of meters are required.