Energy policy not in our best interest

Your article “Electricity policy requested” left me with some questions to the owners of Electro-Motion Energy Corporation.

Dear Editor:

Your article “Electricity policy requested” left me with some questions to the owners of Electro-Motion Energy Corporation.

As an active citizen and former program director with GE Energy, I am accustomed to researching areas of public interest, particularly in the domain of energy and renewable resources.

There are numerous articles analyzing the pros and cons of replacing large power plants with domestic power generation. They always conclude that the decentralization of power generation increases cost to both producer and consumer.

It will also increase the carbon footprint unless micro-generation relies on renewable energies such as wind, solar or biogas.

As explained on Electro-Motion’s website, their unit generates electricity by burning natural gas in a small generator.

This is typically three to five times as expensive as our current utility rate.

With an annual consumption of 7,500 kWh Summerland charges me $750 for electric power. Add to this my annual Fortis gas bill of $950 and my total energy bill comes to $1,700.

Using the Electro-Motion Revolution unit, my electricity would cost me $2,250 to $3,750 to produce.

Even if I took the most optimistic view that the unit would produce all my heat and hot water, I am still $550 to $2,050 out of pocket. Add to this the purchase price of $25,000 plus an installation cost plus a maintenance cost of 10 per cent a year and an expected lifetime of 10 years.

My energy cost increase from $1,700 a year to $6,000 to $7,500 a year.

Electro-Motion claims that surplus power could be sold to Summerland’s power grid. Hence their request for a new electricity policy.

But how could this be the case considering that their production cost is fourfold?

Are they suggesting consumers be charged more?

Utilities around the world have implementing micro-generation and net-metering. Their motivation was environmental concern. Private households in Germany routinely pay over $.40/kWh since their government embarked on a policy of phasing out nuclear power plants and replacing gas and coal generators with solar, wind, biogas or hydro power.

What is suggested by ElectroMotion however, is the opposite of environmentally conscious power generation: the prospect of seeing 1,000 Revolution units spewing exhaust into our air makes me shudder.

I encourage municipal council to consider the implications of Electro-Motion’s request.

A quick review of B.C. Hydro’s website reveals the following: in order to be considered for net-metering, the unit must utilize biogas, biomass, geothermal heat, hydro, solar, wind or other energy resources defined as clean or renewable resources.  Powered by natural gas, the Electro-Motion unit does not satisfy this requirement.

Compensation rates offered by B.C. Hydro are 9.99 cents per kWh. At a projected generating cost of around 40 cents per kWh, the policy would not only run counter to B.C. Hydro’s environmental policies, but would also be a significant financial burden to the District of Summerland, the owner of a Revolution unit and rate payers.

Henry Sielmann

Summerland