Understanding Micro-Generation in Alberta
Did you know, Albertans are permitted to generate their own electricity from renewable or alternative energy sources for their property?
This is referred to as micro-generation and the use of solar panels is an example of this form of electricity generation. Listed below are answers to the most frequently asked questions about micro-generation.
Frequently Asked Questions
How much can I generate?
- You can generate enough power to offset all or a portion of your annual energy usage. If you are generating more power than you use in a year, this is a commercial-sized generator and would not be classified as micro-generation.
- Depending on how much you generate, you’ll either be considered a small micro-generator (under 150 kW), or a large micro-generator (150 kW to 5 MW).
What happens if I produce more energy than I use?
- If you are a micro-generation customer and you do not use all the energy produced at a given time, you will receive a credit for any energy (measured in kWh) that you put onto the power grid.
What if my energy use changes?
- We know life changes and your power needs might change with them. Your distribution company may consider future load additions, with enough acceptable evidence (i.e. a bill of sale for an electric vehicle you just purchased).
Who does what?
- 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. Information specific to your distributor can be found here:
- Your distributor will also be responsible for meter installation, 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 connection process as permits will likely be required from your municipality
- We will continue to provide customer service and billing services for you, in addition to tracking any credits you earn for energy sent to the grid. We also act on your behalf as the electricity market participant with the Alberta Electric System Operator. This means, if you send electric energy to the grid, we are responsible for the energy trading that goes along with this.
How do I qualify?
- 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, meaning that you cannot generate more power than what you used the previous year.
- Your distribution company will have guidelines explaining your responsibilities, including applying for permits from your municipality.
- Take a look at this handy guide from the AUC, which includes an application process summary on pages 10 to 13.
What will my bill look like?
- We will provide your net-billing services. The rate you receive for excess energy sent back onto the grid depends on whether you are a small or large micro-generator:
- If you are a small micro-generator (under 150 kWh) you will be credited at your retail energy rate
- If you are a large micro-generator (150 kWh to 5 MW) you will be credited at the average hourly Alberta Pool Price at the time your electricity is sent onto the grid
- In a month where your net-billing results in a credit (meaning you put more energy on the grid than you consumed) that credit can be carried forward for up to 12 months to help offset future charges.
- At least once per year, we will settle up with you for any unused credits in the form of either a payment to you, an offset of any charges you owe on your bill, or a combination of both.
Will I still receive an energy bill?
- Yes, as a micro-generator, you are still connected to the electric grid and there are costs associated with that still apply for your site. This includes:
- the fixed portions of the distribution charge
- transmission charge
- your municipality’s local access fee
- and any other fixed rate riders
- Your micro-generator may not be producing enough electricity to completely offset your site’s energy needs. This means you’ll need to use some electricity from the grid. You’ll be charged for the amount of kWh you use, as well as the variable distribution rates for any electricity you draw from the grid.
Where can I get more information?
- Additional information on the rules, regulations and guidelines for micro-generation can be found on the following websites:
There are tons of benefits to generating your own energy. Who doesn't love cost savings!? Producing your own electric energy 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.
Still have questions? Please reach out to our customer care team and we'd be happy to help!