A homeowner in Antigonish County is accusing Nova Scotia Power Inc. of shortchanging him on electricity produced by his solar panels.
Peter Ritchie invested $36,000 in solar panels for his house and shed in Pleasant Valley a year ago. He recently got his first cheque from Nova Scotia Power for $406 — roughly half of what he expected.
"My first response was, 'What did I do wrong?' Then upon investigation of the records, I think it's pretty clear the utility is in the wrong," he told CBC News on Wednesday.
Ritchie said the amount of money he received doesn't match the amount of power produced by his solar panels, as indicated on the solar panels' monitoring system.
He believes the issue is the two-way power meter installed by Nova Scotia Power Inc., which measures the power flowing in and out of his home.
"I think what needs to happen is there has to be a change in the way that this net metering agreement works. I think it should be as it is in Ontario, where you have separate sell and buy meters," said Ritchie.
"There's no mixing of consumption and production. It's clearer for the homeowner, it's clearer for the utility and it's no more expensive than the system currently used by NSPI."
Nova Scotia Power Inc. uses a system called enhanced net metering for units that produce renewable energy such as wind, solar, small hydro or biomass.
A bi-directional meter monitors the electricity generated by the renewable energy system and also records conventional electricity consumption from Nova Scotia Power's system.
If the renewable energy system produces more power than what's consumed, it is delivered to the provincial grid and the customer gets an annual cash payment in return.
"We got to a point in our life where we decided we had to so something about energy consumption," said Ritchie.
"This seemed like the most prudent way for us to do that."
A spokeswoman for Nova Scotia Power Inc. said the company doesn't comment on specific customers. Neera Ritcey said the company is aware of the complaint and is working to find a solution.
"If there's any issue that we had around the functioning of our meters, that's something we take very seriously," she told CBC News in a phone interview.
"That's something we will follow up on."
The bi-directional meters meet the requirements of Industry Canada.