LETTER: Storage project, not solar power, will benefit Summerland

The solar array will have zero effect on our peak and our obligation to buy power

Dear Editor:

Kudos to district staff for a great presentation on the Solar+Storage project in Summerland.

The most significant fact was that Summerland must purchase a set amount of power from Fortis as part of our contract. The amount of power we must buy is 80 per cent of the maximum electricity demanded in a 15-minute period throughout the year.

Typically, this “peak demand” is during the dinner hour on the coldest day of the year.

We must then purchase 80 per cent of this “peak demand” for the rest of the year, whether we use it or not.

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Slides presented by the district suggest that the power we must purchase, but cannot use, averages out to $200,000 per month!

These “penalties” pay for the vast amount of infrastructure required to deliver “peak demand” for 15 minutes in the dead of winter. That’s a staggering $2,400,000 per year that we pay for power that we cannot use!

Unfortunately, during the dinner hour on the coldest day of the year, it is dark outside.

The solar array will have zero effect on our peak and our obligation to buy power. It simply means we will use less of what we have to buy.

The battery storage, however, can reduce the peak.

These batteries can be charged during times of low demand and discharged during times of peak demand.

The graph displayed by staff showed the battery storage could shave our peak by five per cent. That would reduce the $200,000 per month we pay for power we cannot use, to $190,000 per month.

Staff confirmed that the net cost savings per year for the Solar+Storage project would be $250,000.

I have to wonder what the motivation to spend $7 million on this project actually is. The solar portion will not affect how much power we have to buy as that is determined in January.

Solar power is less “green” than the hydro-electric power we currently buy.

The only benefit will come from the battery storage facility, which could be constructed without the solar array.

Ian McIntosh

Summerland

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