Who is paying for our environment?
by arseneam on October 7, 2017 - 11:56am
Those who can offer any excess energy produced using renewable energy sources will receive credits on their energy bills thanks to the new net metering program Nunavut and WWF-Canada has created. CBC’s Sima Zerehi praises this new program which has a goal of reducing Nunavut’s reliance on diesel fuel as well as educating the public on the benefits of renewable energy for the future. The credits are only offered for those who generate a maximum of 10kW of power, or small businesses which will in turn be given to the community’s power grid. Bruno Pereira, CEO of Qulliq Energy Corporation, is an advocate for the program stating that “there is a limit on the program that allows for multiple people to benefit rather than only single business benefits.” The goal is also to create jobs and awareness on the subject of green energy. The stakeholders (i.e.; the community, the provincial government and the local businesses) of this project mentioned that this can only been done with the help of the entire community and cannot simply be a government imposed regulation that is forced upon. The problem of non-renewable resources, such as diesel, seems to be easily avoidable using green energy alternatives in communities such as Nunavut, based on this article. With Nunvaut being completely reliant on diesel for energy, Zerehi argues this initiative is vital to a positive environmental future for Canada.
In an idealistic world, this program would be an exemplary way of using renewable resources, however, wishful thinking seems to be what is driving it. The role of the state is to manage environmental integrity through regulations and sustainable management. This program is an example of a substantive policy instrument using billing credits as incentive to encourage the use of green energy and in turn manage environmental integrity. While the stakeholders and Zerehi did claim the project would be a communities’ effort, rather then an imposed regulation, they failed to mention the possibility that not all homeowners place the same value on resource management, or they may have different ideas on how to achieve said environmental goals. Nunavut’s program assumes that members of the community are willing to invest in wind turbines and solar panels but fails to mention the exact return they would obtain. The question is whether or not the credit received will cover the cost of the renewable energy sources purchased (i.e. will people even have the means to participate). Essentially, this is an example of an uncertainty where there is no base knowledge of how this program may develop and benefit the community and therefore people will likely not take any risks in investing. The conflict of interest, where those who benefit and those who pay may be different, is likely to occur in this situation. While it is mentioned that the goal is to benefit everyone, and not just specific businesses or groups, it will be important to follow the trail of who is investing and who is receiving. Essentially, while this is an extremely positive and important program for Nunavut and Canada, it is still extremely unclear and unregulated to be beneficial. This is a wicked problem where resource value, renewable energy and beneficiaries/investors have no simple solution and will inevitably always result in a better or worse scenario.
CBCNEWS. (2017). Nunavut opens door to renewable energy with new net metering program. Retrieved from http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/north/nunavut-renewable-energy-1.3764552