Co-op stuck in net billing resistance in Toronto

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Prospects for a commercial urban wind turbine in Toronto City have been boosted by a cash infusion from the city. The Toronto Atmospheric Fund (TAF), which supports projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions, has awarded a C$800,000 line of credit to the Toronto Renewable Energy Co-operative (TREC). The money is enough for a down payment on the proposed machine, a 660 kW Vestas unit valued at C$1.3 million (Windpower Monthly, August 1998). TREC notes, however, that it is also considering other machines in the megawatt size.

The TAF credit line comes with a number of conditions, however. Among them, TREC must obtain C$300,000 in additional funding before the first TAF instalment, and an agreement must be reached with utility Toronto Hydro regarding electricity distribution and net billing -- a sore point of the project so far. In theory, owners of the machine will be entitled to subtract the value of the output of their share of the turbine from their monthly electricity bills. TREC's attempts to outline such a net billing agreement with Toronto Hydro have been "delayed many times, but now we are close to an agreement because we're negotiating with a vice president who has the authority to make decisions," says Brian Young of TREC. The utility's plans to buy green power from a wind turbine proposed by Ontario Hydro for Toronto's waterfront were dashed in December, when a 45 metre height restriction at the proposed site stopped the project in its tracks.

TREC has begun to measure winds at Toronto Harbour and at a new park by Lake Ontario some ten kilometres west of downtown Toronto. It plans to spin off its Windpower Co-op division (TREC-WPC) to serve exclusively the lakefront wind turbine. TREC-WPC members can now buy 540 kWh of electricity for C$500.

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