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Charlottetown homeowners pull plug on battery storage system because of electrical code

Hank and Teresa Spierenburg have been trying ahead to having backup battery power through the subsequent storm outage — after being with out electrical energy for 10 days after post-tropical storm Fiona.

They lately put in photo voltaic panels on their Charlottetown dwelling by the Change dwelling vitality program, and determined so as to add two batteries at $1,500 every — not sufficient for all of their electrical wants, however the important thing ones.

However shortly after the batteries have been put in, they needed to be eliminated, as a result of they didn’t go {the electrical} inspection. 

The Spierenburgs mentioned they have been advised that, below the brand new Canadian Electrical Code, which took impact in 2021, vitality storage programs might be put in in garages of dwellings, instantly mounted to a constructing, put in in or on a indifferent storage, storage constructing, or free-standing construction, however cannot be throughout the dwelling itself.

The batteries have now been faraway from the Spierenburgs’ dwelling due to {the electrical} code guidelines. (Shane Hennessey/CBC )

“Apparently they’re okay in a separate location or in a storage, however in our case we do not have a storage so we had to surrender on the batteries, sadly,” Hank Spierenburg mentioned.

“We have been very dissatisfied as a result of we had all these plans, and the laws are lagging behind.”

Spierenburg does not imagine the batteries pose a danger.

“The expertise of the batteries has tremendously improved through the years, and the chance that was there earlier than may be very minimal proper now,” he mentioned.

“Hopefully they improve {the electrical} code, and sooner or later, we’d have the ability to use batteries.”

This was going to be the primary solar-battery venture funded by the Change Charlottetown program. (Shane Hennessey/CBC )

In different jurisdictions, owners have constructed “battery sheds,” to retailer their battery storage programs, however they should preserve them at room temperature. Spierenburg mentioned he’s trying into different batteries that use a unique expertise.

“I see this as a short lived setback, and hopefully within the subsequent six months or a 12 months, we will resolve this downside,” Spierenburg mentioned.

‘Regulation limbo’

Julian Boyle is president of PACE Atlantic, the RisePEI-based firm that administers the Change program.

“It is unlucky a house owner and a contractor received caught in, I suppose I might name it ‘regulation limbo.’ It is not unusual for brand new applied sciences to be caught in a few of this regulatory gray space,” Boyle mentioned.

“Clearly an replace and a refresh of the laws on the Island would assist not solely the Spierenburgs however different owners seeking to set up battery and vitality storage programs to supply dependable electrical energy for them throughout grid outages.”

Julian Boyle, president of PACE Atlantic, says greater than half of photo voltaic owners are expressing curiosity in getting backup batteries versus a generator. (Shane Hennessey/CBC )

Boyle mentioned the demand is ramping up for battery storage programs, just like the one which the Spierenburgs wish to set up.

“It is a expertise that’s now in all probability extra economical than placing in a backup diesel generator, and offers much more flexibility for the grid and house owner,” Boyle mentioned.

“There’s a few thousand battery tasks already within the pipeline right here in Nova Scotia, and I think this can be coming to P.E.I. quickly as nicely.”

Boyle says the demand is ramping up for battery storage programs linked to solar energy, just like the one which the Spierenburgs wish to set up. (Shane Hennessey/CBC)

Nova Scotia battery pilot

Nova Scotia Energy has been engaged on a venture referred to as Sensible Grid Nova Scotia, which features a battery storage pilot with about 130 clients throughout the province — some built-in with photo voltaic and a few not — utilizing two totally different battery programs.

“We’re studying all kinds of issues about battery storage. We’re studying about what clients need from a battery, and the way they will use a battery,” mentioned Ed Cullinan, supervisor of product improvement at Nova Scotia Energy.

A battery panel and two electrical panels installed on the interior wall of a building.
Ed Cullinan of Nova Scotia Energy says the batteries have been put in in 2021, and have been put to the take a look at a number of occasions throughout excessive climate occasions in 2022. (Ian Selig Photographer/Nova Scotia Energy)

“We have put in all of our batteries in garages, or in outbuildings which can be both adjoining to the property or disconnected from the house,” Cullinan mentioned.

“We have been lucky sufficient that we had plenty of curiosity from members throughout the province, and we have been capable of finding clients the place we might place the batteries in appropriate areas.”

Cullinan mentioned the batteries have been put in in 2021, and have been put to the take a look at a number of occasions throughout excessive climate occasions in 2022.

We talked to all of our clients about their expertise with their batteries after Fiona, and had constructive outcomes throughout the board.​​​​​Ed Cullinan, Nova Scotia Energy 

“Prospects love the truth that it is immediately obtainable within the occasion of an outage. Most do not even notice that the facility has gone out, and it is simply no mess, no fumes, no fuss, in comparison with a generator,” Cullinan mentioned.

“We talked to all of our clients about their expertise with their batteries after Fiona, and had constructive outcomes throughout the board.”

Cullinan mentioned Nova Scotia Energy can also be exploring different methods to make use of the battery storage programs.

“When the battery is on grid, we will really function the battery, and create a number of worth for the system,” Cullinan mentioned. 

“Absorbing extra wind as an alternative of curbing it, levelling the load on a sure feeder to scale back the stress on the system at any given time. That can simply assist us function the grid extra effectively and scale back prices for everybody.”

A Nova Scotia Energy crew works on energy traces close to RisePEI throughout a 2021 storm. (Paul Palmeter/CBC)

The three-year pilot will finish in 2023, however clients have the battery storage system for 10 years.

A spokesperson for the P.E.I. authorities despatched this response about battery storage programs: 

“It’s as much as every province, territory or jurisdiction to embrace the code, and on P.E.I., this observe wouldn’t be authorized below the code(s) which were adopted. For very particular conditions, we at all times encourage all licensed electrical contractors to succeed in out to their native Electrical Inspector for steerage when they’re unsure of the code necessities.”

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