Oxford County wants to show the public the potential of virtual net metering

By Bruce Chessell, Woodstock Sentinel-Review

The Oxford County Administration building in Woodstock.

The Oxford County Administration building in Woodstock.

Oxford County is looking to show people the potentials of virtual net metering.

The county is looking to partner with the province on running a demonstration of virtual net metering in Oxford, using one of the county owned buildings for this purpose.

Manager of strategic initiatives Jay Heaman explained that virtual net metering allows people to lever lands they might hand that can generate a good deal of renewable energy and offset loads of other areas.

“If you take a water treatment facility it’s a fairly small land with high electricity requirements. You would never be able to generate as much electricity as you need from that one property,” Heaman said. “In the case of the county, there is the landfill out at Salford that has all kinds of opportunities to install solar out there on lands that can’t be used for anything else.

“You could aggregate all of that renewable energy from a remote location and offset the larger electricity loads that you might have,” he added.

Heaman said they are ready to go forward with the demonstration, adding that the next step is for warden David Mayberry to approach the minister of energy.

“The demonstration that we purposed is to identify some buffer lands at the landfill in Salford for the generation side of it, and then identify higher-density loads that the county might own,” he said. “One idea that we thought of was the county courthouse buildings. There’s a cluster of seven buildings that include the courthouse.

“Really what we need is to use lands like we have in Salford and buildings like we have in Oxford County to be able to illustrate the renewable generation, the aggregate of electricity loads in a certain area, and be able to demonstrate the net difference between the two,” he added. “Then we’ll create a visualization of what we’re actually talking about. It is a bit of an abstract concept for most.”

Heaman said that if they can make this demonstration work over the next 12 months, it would really help push the idea of virtual net metering.

“We could expand this out to other facilities,” he said. “The whole concept could be expanded out to other municipalities in Oxford… We become that incubator, where we start with one demonstration project and then we expand within Oxford. At the same time the province is there as a partner, helping to understand the very regulation that they’re helping to implement.”