New Brunswick Power (NB Power), the primary electric utility in the Canadian province of New Brunswick, has the potential to become an active player in the New Brunswick solar energy market—if it acts now.
An NB Power commissioned study suggests the utility can leverage its prowess if it creates a solar leasing option that can be offered to its customers.
The study said an NB Power solar leasing program could double the anticipated solar demand over an eight-year period while giving the utility half of the provinces solar market.
It’s important to note that the costs for adding a 5kW home solar system would be $15,000 and generate 6,100-kilowatt hours of yearly electricity. NB Power could charge a premium of $150/month which equals $0.3/kWh, cashing in on $1 million in annual profits as 860 households could join the program.
New Brunswick is expected to turn towards solar in the new future, if NB Power embraces this change and offers solar to its customers, they could become solar leaders in the province. If not, the utility may see a drop in bottom-line, as a significant client shift towards solar will mean a decline in electricity demand from their large generators.
Other New Brunswick utilities want to get a piece of the solar action as it becomes a more attractive option for utilities. Ray Robinson, CEO of Saint John Energy says he expects his utility to jump in the solar space within the next five years or less.
As of January 2017, there were only 370 kilowatts of solar capacity installed in New Brunswick. Predictions indicate that an NB Power lease program that will expand 18 fold to 13,700 kilowatts by 2025 and to 310,000 kilowatts by 2040.
The province is looking to ramp up its renewable energy commitments, as they anticipate that 40 percent of their electricity may come from renewable sources by 2020.
The Village of Perth Andover, the City of Edmundston and Saint John Energy, in cooperation with the City of Saint John, are proposing to build the Charlotte County Community Wind Farm and Chapman Community Wind Farm. Each 20 MW project has a value of approximately C$60 million. This will strengthen New Brunswick’s renewable energy electricity capacity.
It will be interesting to see what NB Power does next, given the rapid changes within the utility industry, and if they capitalize to become New Brunswick’s premier solar provider.