Did you know that Albertans are permitted to generate their own electricity from renewable or alternative energy sources for their property?
A micro-generation customer owns a device that converts energy from one form into electrical energy. This could be any renewable energy, most often being solar in Alberta. You can be either a Small Micro-Generator or a Large Micro-Generator. Once you exceed 5,000 kW capacity or intend to earn revenue from the electric power generated, you are considered a commercial-sized generator.
You are allowed in Alberta to generate enough power to offset all, or a portion, of your annual energy usage. The intent of micro-generation generating units (less than 5,000 kW capacity and connected to an electric distribution system) - is to produce electric energy for personal use and for energy produced to be less than the yearly consumption at the site. Depending on how much you generate, you'll either be a small micro-generator (under 150 kW) or a large micro-generator (150 kW to 5,000 kW).
Note: Albertans who want to generate electricity to earn revenue are considered commercial generators and do not meet the requirements to be a micro-generator.
If you are a micro-generation customer and do not use all the energy produced in a billing cycle, you will receive a credit for any energy (measured in kWh) that you put onto the power grid.
Your credit will be dependent on the size of micro-generator you are. A small micro-generator (up to 150 kW) will be credited at your retail energy rate. When your electricity is sent to the grid, a large micro-generator (150 kW to 5,000 kW) will be credited at the hourly wholesale Alberta Pool Price.
The hourly wholesale pool price is determined by the Alberta Electric System Operator. View their website for more information.
Life changes, and your energy use may change with it. Your distribution company is responsible for helping you determine the micro-generators capacity you can install today. In addition, they can help you to consider future load additions (they may require evidence depending on the capacity increase requested). Contact your distributor for further assistance.
Your distributor is responsible for connecting your micro-generation system. The connection process follows the rules set out in the Micro-Generation Regulation and the Alberta Utilities Commission's (AUC's) Rules Respecting Micro-Generation. While your distribution company needs to follow the AUC's process, there may be slight variations.
Your distributor will also be responsible for meter installation and meter data management service to ensure the amount of energy sent to the grid is accurately accounted for. Meter installation is generally done at the distributor's cost, with a few exceptions. If there is a disagreement in cost responsibility, you can file a complaint with the AUC.
You need to notify your retailer (that's us!) that you are, or intend to be, a micro-generator. You'll need to check your distribution company's application and the connection process as permits will likely be required from your municipality.
We will continue to provide customer service and billing services for you and track any credits you earn for energy sent to the grid. As the electricity market participant with the Alberta Electric System Operator, we also act on your behalf. This means that if you send electric energy to the grid, we are responsible for the energy trading that goes along with this.
First, you'll need to apply to your distribution company to connect your micro-generation unit. The size of your micro-generation unit cannot be larger than your site's historical consumption. This means you cannot generate more power than you used the previous year. Your distribution company will have guidelines explaining your responsibilities, including applying for permits from your municipality.
Review this handy guide from the AUC, which includes an application process summary on pages 10 to 13.
You will receive an energy bill that looks the same as the bill you receive today, with an additional line item – Microgen Credit. This is your credit for the energy you put back into the power grid.
The rate you receive for excess energy sent back onto the grid depends on whether you are a small or large micro-generator:
Typically, your microgeneration credit will be on your bill each month. While this is at minimum, once per year, it is not common to have a delay in seeing the credit for the energy put into the grid.
Yes, as a micro-generator, you are still connected to the electric grid, and the associated costs still apply to your site. This includes:
Micro-generation units rarely produce enough energy to completely offset your site's usage. Your property will use some of the energy produced as it is used, and then whatever is not used by your site to offset your consumption – will be put back into the grid.
You will receive a credit for what you put back into the grid, but you must also pay for all the energy you used from the grid. What this means is: If you use 800 kWh in one month and put back 200 kWh into the grid, you will pay for the 800 kWh that you used from the grid. Then you will receive a credit in your retailer charges on a separate line (for the 200 kWh you put back into the grid). In the distribution charges section of your bill, you will be charged for the full 800 kWh delivered.
This is important to keep in mind – sometimes it might be easier to think of it as paying for 600 kWh, but this is not the case because you still need to pay the distributor for all the energy delivered.
There are tons of benefits to generating your own energy. Who doesn't love cost savings?! Producing your own power will offset some of the energy your property needs to draw from the grid, resulting in a lower bill and more money in your pocket. Plus, by choosing to generate from a renewable source, your micro-generator will help protect the environment.