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Businessman told to hold off on project for volunteer group

A St. Philip’s businessman cannot understand why Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro will not let him install a wind turbine for a volunteer organization in Hawke’s Bay.

An example of a wind turbine made by WINPhase Energy, whose products are distributed in Canada by Labrador Coastal Equipment, owned by Gerry Skinner of Portugal Cove-St. Philip’s.

According to Wallace Maynard, vice-president of the Torrent River Salmon Interpretation Centre, the facility has a limited revenue stream and needs to find ways to cut costs in order to survive. It receives funding from the Town of Hawke’s Bay.

He hoped the use of a wind turbine to power the facility would reduce expenses for the site, which operates for approximately two months annually, but consumes power throughout the year.

Gerry Skinner, president of Labra­dor Coastal Equipment, proposed installing a 10-kilowatt net-metering system that would allow the centre to generate the electricity it needs to operate. Extra electricity would go back to Hydro’s grid for other consumers to use.

Skinner met with Hydro officials in May 2013. He was told at the time that Hydro would provide a list of technical requirements his project would need to meet.

Bob Moulton, manager of generation and rural planning for Hydro, emailed Skinner in December with a list of five conditions he would need to satisfy.

“I see no technical reason why a 10 kW wind turbine and inverter as discussed in earlier correspondence … cannot be installed at the (Torrent River) Salmon Interpretation Centre,” he wrote.

Skinner claims to have satisfied all of the conditions except for the last one, which involved getting a signed agreement in place with the Town of Hawke’s Bay. He expected Hydro to provide an agreement document to fulfil that condition.

However, Moulton told Skinner in a letter late last month that the project will not proceed until a provincial net metering policy is finalized.

That matter also involves Newfoundland Power and the Department of Natural Resources. According to the letter, that policy should be finalized later this year.

Skinner has been trying to set up net metering services for nine years and cannot understand why Newfoundland and Labrador is not keeping up with other provinces, like Nova Scotia. He suggests Newfoundland and Labrador could implement the Nova Scotia policy already in place there with relative ease.

In a statement released to The Telegram Monday, Hydro said while it recognizes the value of net metering, provincial policy needs to be in place before any such project proceeds. Hydro reconfirmed that policy should be completed in 2014 and said once that happens, it is prepared to discuss further with Skinner a potential agreement with respect to the Hawke’s Bay facility.

Twitter: @TeleAndrew

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