On-site electricity production and storage system connection fee consultation

Status: closed

Technical Safety BC is proposing a new, lower-priced category of electrical installation permit fees for interconnection equipment such as transfer switches, combiners, and inverters that connect to systems that produce and store electricity to be used on site.

This consultation closed on August 17, 2018. Read results here.

Proposal

Technical Safety BC is proposing the following fees be added to the current electrical fee table:

Type of work

Residential

Commercial

System connection included in an installation permit for other regulated work.

$110

$221

Standalone system connection permit with no other regulated work.

$172

$283

Systems referred to in the table do not include those primarily intended to produce and store electricity to be used off site. Furthermore, systems that power industrial equipment and other large commercial operations would not fall under this fee category. 

Details about the proposed fee reduction

The proposed new fee category reduces the costs to contractors and owners connecting systems that produce and store electricity on site. The fees would apply to all types of electricity production and storage systems meant for on-site usage, including solar panels, wind turbines, batteries, and diesel generators. The proposed fees would go into effect in early 2019.

The current electrical fee structure bases the electrical installation permit fee on the value of the electrical equipment and labour fees charged to the consumer. When these fees were designed in 2013, they did not take into account the high costs of electrical production and storage systems such as solar panels and wind turbines. The proposal is intended to lower the fees paid by contractors and consumers choosing to install these types of systems.

Why lower fees?

The current fee structure discourages some contractors from including the cost of electricity production and storage systems in calculations of electrical permit fees.

What do I get for my fee?

The proposed fees were determined on a cost-recovery basis, meaning they reflect the cost for Technical Safety BC to regulate this work though risk-based assessment and continued monitoring of permits.

Risks of connecting electricity production and storage systems

Easy access and limited user knowledge

Today, many electricity production and storage systems are readily available online, allowing individuals to purchased and install them. In many cases the people installing them do not have the necessary permits, approvals, or technical skill to install the systems safely.

These systems are often high voltage. As well, energy management systems which allow these devices to be controlled by smartphone can inadvertently overload the circuit.

Electrical shock hazard

Electricity production systems turned on without the proper switches and without turning off the appropriate breakers can cause the equipment to backfeed. This means that electricity can flow in the opposite direction it was intended. Having the current feed back into the utility systems has the potential to damage equipment or shock and seriously injure utility workers.

Solar panels can produce energy with any light source, including a flashlight, and accidentally touching them could deliver a shock.

These fees are proposed to be effective in early 2019 and would be subject to annual fee increases.
  Residential Commercial
Current $385 $794
Proposed $110 - $172 $221 - $283

Systems primarily intended to produce or store electricity to be used off site, and systems that power industrial equipment and other large commercial operations, are excluded from these fees and would continue to be included under the current installation permit fee structure.

Owners would still need to pay the appropriate annual operating permit fees, if applicable.

Other jurisdictions

Ontario has a flat fee of $290 for installation of renewable energy systems including solar panels and wind turbines less than 10 kilowatts.

These fees are proposed to cover connection to the following types of systems:
  • Batteries (including for electric vehicles)
  • Fuel cell
  • Generators
  • Geothermal
  • Small hydro or run of river
  • Solar
  • Steam
  • Tidal
  • Wave
  • Wind

We are proposing that the fees do not cover:

  • Systems primarily intended to produce or store electricity to be used off site (e.g., regulated utilities)
  • Systems that power commercial or industrial operations (e.g. pulp mills)
     

 

Results

See results here.

What others are saying about this proposal

Read the feedback already received for this consultation.

Further questions?

Contact engage@technicalsafetybc.ca

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