WHEREAS development of the renewable electricity industry has the potential to improve the financial sustainability and energy independence for farmers. Farm purchased electricity will be reduced, farm energy emissions will be reduced, and the availability of on-farm electricity can become more secure.AND WHEREAS Alberta’s deregulated electricity industry has been established for large electric power generators, transmission lines, distribution systems, retailers and their respective owners.AND WHEREAS Alberta’s Hydro and Electric Energy Act, the Electric Utilities Act, the Energy and Utilities Board regulations and the Alberta Electric System Operator regulations stemming from these Acts, and the regulatory paperwork process arising from these Acts and Regulations are focussed on large generators and do not have appropriate exemptions for personal household and farmstead load-offset generators such as grid dependent solar photovoltaic and microwind turbine technologies.AND WHEREAS the Acts and Regulations cause a large number and a significant complexity of steps for homeowners and farm owners to connect to the grid.AND WHEREAS solar electricity and microwind turbine electricity has zero emissions.
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties encourage the Province of Alberta to develop and implement a renewable on farm, on house, and on-building micropower electricity industry strategy.The strategy should include the following essential components:1. Incentives to ensure that micropower load-offset technologies are attractive for long term personal and farm procurement;2. A commitment from the Province to mandate the use of micropower load-offset technologies as appropriate;3. A review of regulatory processes that would encourage and facilitate the development of micropower load-offset generators on farms, homes, and small businesses, including the re-classification of such generators into “micro load offset generators” so as to avoid being hindered now and in the future by regulations that need to affect larger and merchant power generators only.
On-site solar electric (called photovoltaic or PV) and microwind turbine technologies can provide from 10 per cent to 100 per cent of the electricity used by a home, farm and small business (depending on the amount of electricity consumed and the size of the generator). These technologies also provide secure no-outage electricity if on-site energy storage is incorporated.The air emissions produced by the on-site energy consumption will be reduced similarly by 10 per cent to 100 per cent because solar PV and microwind turbines are zero-emission technologies. This compares to the emissions produced by Alberta’s electricity generators amounting to approximately 863 kg of greenhouse gas emissions per MWh of electricity consumed (or 5.7 tonnes per household annually).Presently there are 30 to 50 personal load-offset grid connected solar PV systems installed in Alberta and likely a similar number of microwind turbine systems. Solar PV systems can be installed on every house, farm and building in the province, amounting to over 1.5 million systems. Presently more than 400 000 such systems are annually being installed on houses around the world. While solar PV is presently expensive, current predictions by respected solar PV manufacturers indicate that solar PV electricity will be competitive with the rising prices of bulk electricity generation within 10 15 years. It is important then to mitigate the regulatory obstacles to these technologies in Alberta so that they can easily grow, mature and keep pace with international developments over this period.There is a 60 step regulatory approval process to connect solar power systems to the grid in Alberta and some 70 steps to connect microwind turbines, along with another 18 steps to sell any excess electricity. These steps arise from the laws of the Hydro and Electric Energy Act and the Electric Utilities Act that govern electric power generators and how electricity is handled. From these laws come the regulations and processes of the Energy and Utilities Board and the Alberta Electric System Operator. Since these laws, regulations, and processes are focussed on large generators and merchant power generators, they are set up to be appropriate for the size and scope of these generators and the electricity they produce. They are being found, however, to be not appropriate in complexity and detail for the size, scope and reason for people’s desires to have their own grid connected load offset generators. With the coming thousands of such tiny generators focussed on powering residential, farm and building loads, they need to be facilitated by Alberta’s laws, regulations and processes. Currently there are no exemptions or special considerations for these generators. In contrast, BC Hydro has a very simple one stop paperwork process. Eight other provinces are developing similar simple processes.We feel that a strategy to encourage development of the micropower technology industries will create a positive and long-term benefit for Alberta’s economies, including reducing cash outflow from communities and facilitating Alberta’s industries in serving the world’s burgeoning renewable energy markets.
The AAMDC has no resolutions currently in effect with respect to this issue.However, resolution 7-05F regarding research funding for alternate energy sources urges the Government of Alberta to invest $3 billion dollars over the next twenty years in research and development funding for alternate energy sources.The government response indicates that alternate and renewable energy is one of the strategic priority areas of the Alberta Energy Innovation Strategy. The goal is to develop, improve and adapt alternate and renewable energy technologies, such as bioenergy, green hydrogen, fuel cells and geothermal energy.The AERI recognizes that considerable collaboration in this area will be required across the country and internationally. In this regard, the AERI is working with the Alberta Agricultural Research Institute, the Alberta Forestry Research Institute and the Energy Innovation Network (EnergyINet Inc.) to promote national collaboration on renewable energy with industry and other governments.
On February 1, 2008, the Government of Alberta announced the implementation of a micro-generation regulation. The micro-generation regulation allows Albertans who generate their own electricity to send excess power back into the grid through net metering and also encourages the use of renewable resources. However, the AAMDC will continue to advocate on a number of other components of the resolutions, such as providing incentives for micro-generation.