AuthorKris Kasawski

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Solar Rebates and Energy Efficiency Program in Alberta

Take advantage of the Government of Alberta Solar Rebates and Energy Efficiency Programs!
I encourage you to check out the Energy Efficiency Alberta website as it has been recently updated with an easy interface providing lots of information about all the energy savings programs currently being offered to Albertans.

It also a good place to inform yourselves about what the Energy Efficiency Agency does and to learn some tips on being efficient with your energy usage.

 

The Residential and Commercial Solar Program will offer rebates to homeowners, businesses and non-profits that install solar photovoltaic (PV) systems.  The details have not been finalized yet but we can expect to see this program launching as early as Summer 2017.  We should expect to see it provide rebates of up to 30% for residential and up to 25% for commercial/non-profit PV installations.

This solar incentive program is creating a lot of consumer buzz about the Alberta Solar industry these days that coincides well with the Renewable Electricity Program(REP) .  With the Alberta Government and the Alberta Electric System Operator (AESO) launching the REP, Alberta will see up to 400 MW of new solar pv generating capacity installed onto the electricity grid, presenting viable opportunities for some utility scale solar production in Alberta.

These two initiatives will definitely contribute towards the government’s goal of Alberta’s electricity grid being supplied by up to 30% renewable energy by 2030.

If you have more interest in solar pv systems, the Solar Energy Society of Alberta is a great resource but also stay tuned to info from Park Power on how you can start taking charge of your electricity usage with solar power.  Below you will find information about the other incentive programs available to Albertans.

If you have not already, consumers can still sign up for the Residential No-Charge Energy Savings Program.  This program offers direct, no-charge installation of energy efficient products across the province, in rural and urban houses, apartments and condos. Whether you own or rent your home, an Energy Efficiency Alberta installer will visit your home and conduct a walk through to identify potential opportunities for energy-efficient upgrades at no charge. Most homes can be upgraded in one to three hours.

Another way that Energy Efficiency Alberta is trying to get consumers to be more energy efficient is through the Instant Savings Program.  On their webpage, they even provide a Store Locator to allow you find the participating retailers near you.

Albertans who plan on purchasing a new refrigerator, clothes washer, or smart thermostat, are able to upload receipts of purchases made on or after April 28, 2017 to apply for rebates on their purchases.

For those Albertans that are thinking about some larger improvements to their homes, the Home Improvements Program is offering rebates on the purchase of new insulation, windows, and tankless hot water heaters.

Energy Efficiency Alberta is also offering programs for commercial, non-profit, and institutional consumers.  The Business, Non-Profit and Institutional Energy Savings Program offers incentives to encourage organizations to replace outdated and inefficient equipment faster than they may normally, to help reduce emissions.

 

There you have it, plenty of incentives for Albertans to become more energy efficient and reduce their carbon footprint. After which they can Sign Up with Park Power to get lower rates on their electricity and natural gas usage.

 

 

 

 

What is happening to Alberta’s Electricity Market?

Starting January 1, 2017 Alberta’s electricity landscape will begin to undergo some major changes and you may be wondering about these changes and how they will affect you as a consumer.  The impact may not be as daunting or a negative as you might think.

There are 3 key principles that will be guiding this electricity transition; Consumer Protection, a Market Redesign, and the Phase Out of Coal Emissions.

Consumer protection will come in the form of a ban on door to door sales of energy products and a price cap on the default Regulated Rate Option (RRO) that will come into effect June 2017.  The ban on door to door sales applies to businesses selling furnaces, natural gas and electricity contracts, water heaters, windows, air conditioners, and energy audits.   The price cap will be in place for 4 years as a method to protect RRO consumers from the volatility of the energy only wholesale electricity market.  Consumers who choose a non RRO Competitive Retailer for their electricity already have the opportunity for price protection in the form of Fixed Rates.

The market redesign towards a Capacity Market will happen under the direction of the Alberta Electric System Operator (AESO) and will encompass 2 wholesale electricity markets. A market in which generators compete to sell energy and a market in which generators compete for payments to provide capacity on demand.  A Capacity Market will provide stability in prices and create a more investment friendly environment than the current energy only market.  New investment will be required as coal-fired electricity generation is phased out and new generation is required to replace its capacity on our grid. Price stability in the wholesale electricity market will have stabilizing effects on the prices for retail consumers.

The phase out of coal fired electricity will have direct impact on the companies that own current coal fired generating assets as well as the communities in which they operate.  Currently Coal Phase Out Agreements have been reached with Capital Power, TransAlta, and ATCO wherein the Alberta Government commits to $97million annually until 2030 and these companies commit to zero emissions from coal-fired power by Dec. 31, 2030, continue to invest in Alberta’s electricity sector and maintain a significant presence (head office and minimum number of employees), provide funds to support communities, respect commitments to employees.  The funding for these transition payments will be coming from the Progressive Conservative installed Emissions Reduction Alberta (previously branded Climate Change and Emissions Management Corporation) meaning the transition payments will not be coming from consumers electricity bills.

Now perhaps some perspective.  Yes these market changes combined with the Carbon Levy will increase Albertan consumers’ electricity costs.  Remember though that electricity in Alberta in 2016 traded at the lowest prices in 15 years and overall Canadians pay some of the lowest prices in the developed world for electricity.  Plus there is also the new agency, Energy Efficiency Alberta that will provide programs and services to help Albertans protect their pocketbook and lower their carbon footprint.

If you are a Floating Rate consumer you have been saving money all year and if you are a Fixed Rate consumer now is a great time to lock in a new rate.

There are some positives to be seen as a consumer in the Alberta Electricity Market right now.

Update on the Alberta Coal Phase Out

As January 1, 2017 approaches and Alberta prepares to enact some major changes to the electricity market here is an update on the Coal Phase Out.

The Alberta Government is attempting a made-in-Alberta transition to a stable, reliable and cleaner electricity system, the government plans to phase out all coal pollution by 2030. This will be achieved through the following actions:

  • having 30% of Alberta’s electricity come from renewable sources by 2030
  • allowing coal units to convert to natural gas where it is economically viable
  • creating a market for private investment in technologies such as natural gas, cogeneration or other technologies

A hiccup that came along with the move towards a coal free electricity grid was when 4 companies applied to terminate their Power Purchase Arrangements. Which was followed by a lawsuit launched by the government to counter those terminations.  A settlement has been reached Capital Power and tentative agreements have been reached with TransCanada and AltaGas.

coal-fired-generationThere is also the effect on the owners of the coal-fired electricity generation assets that will be affected by the mandated phase out.  The government has elected to provide transition payments to the companies which were originally slated to operate their coal-fired units beyond 2030.

These payments, calculated using a methodology provided by energy expert Terry Boston, represent the approximate economic disruption to their capital investments. They also provide investor confidence and encourage them to participate in Alberta’s transition from coal to lower emitting sources of electricity, such as natural gas and renewables.

The transition payments will be coming from Emissions Reduction Alberta (formerly the Climate Change and Emissions Management Corporation – CCEMC) and will be paid from revenues generated by Alberta’s price on industrial carbon emissions.  This is a funding source that was in place prior to the NDP taking power and will have no effect on consumer electricity bills.

In regards to the communities and local economies that will be impacted by the retirements of coal-fired power plants, the government has created the Advisory Panel on Coal Communities.  This panel, with experts in employment and labour law, human capital and economics will engage with the affected communities to try and enact a positive economic and social transition in this large market shift.

As coal-fired electricity generation currently makes up half of the grid capacity in Alberta and the government has a goal of 30% renewable capacity by 2030, natural gas generation, both new and coal to gas conversions , will still make up the other 70% of grid capacity.  As of the fall of 2016 there is already a memorandum of understanding between the Alberta Government and TransAlta regarding the transition from coal to gas.

With drastic market changes like this there is bound to be impact on consumers.  The coal phase out and the carbon tax will most likely have upward pressures on retail rates for consumers.  How drastic those upward price pressures will be is yet to be seen and will depend on the other coming changes to Alberta’s electricity market.

Consumers can protect themselves from any price increases by choosing a Fixed Rate Plan from Park Power that will guarantee them a low (pre-carbon tax) rate for 2 or 4 years.