Bright new program emerges for Alberta solar micro-generators

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Solar Power has dominated the news recently. Some of the most notable stories include:

· Innogy, a major German energy firm announced plans to begin construction on two solar energy projects near Vauxhall in southeastern Alberta this spring.

· An Irish energy company has proposed a 156-acre solar energy production facility within Calgary city limits. If approved, it would be the largest in Western Canada.

· A University of Calgary engineering student’s research has found that rooftop solar panels on homes could produce up to 23% of Calgary’s power.

Solar still only makes up a small part of Alberta’s electricity grid, but with electricity prices on the rise, more and more people are starting to think about possibly adding a solar system to their home to not only help reduce their monthly bill, but also do their part for the environment.

But consumers are concerned about what kind of payback they will receive from their investment in a solar system.

Additionally, in light of the recent election, a new government means changes could be coming to the market. As part of its election platform, the UCP wanted to encourage the concept of “subsidy free” and “private sector investment” in Alberta’s energy industry. They may cut the Carbon Tax and phase out rebates that have fueled some of the growth in solar in the province. Consumers and industry professionals are wondering how this shift will impact them.

Amidst all of this change, a new privately funded, non-Carbon Tax subsidized program embodies all of the qualities the government says they are encouraging in Alberta’s energy industry, and is good news for solar in the province.

The Light Up Alberta Solar Club

NewGen Energy and Green Alberta Energy are excited to announce the new and improved Solar Club Loyalty Program. Designed specifically for solar micro-generators, the club will provide a unique opportunity for microgenerators to earn a premium on the solar electricity they generate.

“Alberta has a wealth of imaginative and environmentally sensitive people, and the amount of solar systems installed in the province is on the rise,” said Larry Peters, VP of Business Development, NewGen Energy. “The market has grown over the last few years, and today there are almost 3,500 micro-generators in Alberta. That growth is encouraging. But we asked ourselves, how can we encourage even MORE micro-generation investment in the province? How can we make a difference and do so without being subsidized out of the Carbon Tax? The answer was right in front of us all along. We developed our Solar Club as a direct response to the need to encourage growth in green energy.

“The answer was to pay micro-generators a reasonable price for the surplus green electricity they produce and ship back to the grid,” said Madeline Low, Director of Green Alberta Energy. “So, we created a program that does just that, and more.”

The program is designed based on the existing Micro-Gen regulation originally published in 2008 with amendments of August 1, 2018.

Members of the club have access to exclusive electricity rates, can switch between rates with no penalties to accommodate seasonal generation fluctuations, receive 5% cash back on all energy imported from the grid on an annual basis, and will have 30% of the electricity they import from the grid offset by Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs), free.

“The previous government had a goal of achieving 30% renewables by 2030,” said Low. “Why wait for 2030? Microgenerators who are part of the club can achieve this goal today.”

We all know that greening our electricity is a vital industry initiative but ultimately, adoption of the program had to come with a financial reward and we believe we have struck the perfect balance with this program” Larry Peters said. “Our program accelerates the return on investment so that solar owners will be encouraged to add even more panels to their roof.”

Understanding Micro-Generation

Micro-generation is the production of electricity on a small scale, using renewable and alternative energy sources. Energy sources are typically solar and wind and are generated by individual home owners and small businesses, as well as municipal and community buildings to meet their electricity needs.

Alberta’s Micro-generation Regulation allows Albertans to meet their own electricity needs by generating electricity from renewable or alternative energy sources. Under the regulation, micro-generators receive credits for the electricity they produce but do not consume. Small micro-generators are credited for the electricity sent back to the grid on a monthly basis at their retail rates.

What makes the Solar Club so attractive to solar micro-generators in Alberta are the special electricity rates and the ability to switch between a high export rate of 18.75 ¢/kWh and a low export rate of 6.49 ¢/kWh, with no penalties, depending on the time of year and how much electricity they are importing and exporting.

Simply put, when the sun is shining and micro-generators are exporting more electricity than they are importing, they can choose to be on the 18.75 ¢/kWh rate. When the seasons begin to change and they begin importing more electricity than they export, they can switch to the 6.49 ¢/kWh rate.

Spring has finally arrived in Alberta, and now is the time to start getting the most out of your solar system. Sign up today and join the Solar Club. Visit us at the NewGen Energy Solar Club