Solar Panels on Roof Tops in YEG

So you’re interested in what it takes to do solar, or as they call it in the Power industry, micro-generation?

Me too!

My friend Josh C use to tinker with fun DIY electronic projects and our corporate friend Radio Shack.  Funny enough I still have that disposition, and I started calling around to find out what it would take.  While there are a few companies that do this in Edmonton, I wanted to try and help you get to the end decision part more quickly than you would by searching this out yourself. By the way, this is for residential Edmonton home owners, but it’s probably similar for businesses too.

Take a look at this house in Edmonton:
Solar House

1. First you’ll need to be engaged. 

If you’re not use to using your brain to do this sort of thing, then it’ll take some mental effort. You’ll have to call around, read legislation (it’s not too bad), and apply for permits. Electrical contractors or construction contractors in general will be able to do this project with precision, because that’s what they do all day long, but you too can do this yourself.

2. You’ll need to commit resources (eventually)

Solar costs money, and you don’t want to waste you time, so there is a “Go/No-Go” point you’ll need to consider.  You’ll likely identify steps you can grow your home’s setup for solar.  Also, keep informal track of your time, as you’ll undoubtedly talk to others, so you can compare notes and keep the maker movement alive.

3. The Regulator, The Distributor, The Retailer

The Regulator for electical power in Alberta is called Alberta Utilities Commission (AUC, http://www.auc.ab.ca). These folks keep power generation under wraps. Before you talk to the distributor, you’ll need to be familiar with the micro-generation (Rule 024). They ask questions related to the regulation.

The AUC Micro-Generation Rules:

“On February 1, 2008, the government of Alberta issued the Micro-Generation Regulation. This regulation allows Albertans to generate their own environmentally friendly electricity and receive credit for any power they send into the electrical grid.

The Alberta Utilities Commission has implemented the regulation, and has developed processes to simplify approvals and interconnection agreements between customers and owners of electrical distribution systems. AUC Rule 024 was developed to define the business rules and processes to enable customers interested in micro-generation to connect into the distribution system.

More information for customers interested in installing a micro-generator can be found on the micro-generation page.”

[Source as of today: http://www.auc.ab.ca/rule-development/micro-generation/Pages/default.aspx]

Micro-gen_applicationFlowChart

There are four steps to become a micro-generator in Alberta:

  1. Become familiar with the contents of the Micro-Generator Application Guideline which will help you in understanding the process and technical requirements of interconnecting your micro generation unit to the distribution system.
  2. When you are ready to proceed with your micro-generation project, complete all the required fields of the generation project (less than 1 MW) notice form. Please note that missing or incomplete information may cause delays in processing your application.
  3. Send in your completed application form with all the wire service providers required documentation to your wire service provider for approval (for example: if your micro-generation project located in the city of Edmonton you will need to send your application to EPCOR Distribution & Transmission Inc.).
  4. Notify your electric retailer. You must advise your retailer of the micro-generation connection date and arrange for compensation for any excess electricity generated.

Micro Generation Application (AUC) .PDF

The Distributor

In YEG it’s Epcor. They get the power to your doorstep, as in all that copper leading up to your house is up to them to maintain and protect. You will need to apply for a Distribution System Operator Approval before you’ll start talking meters and such.  To get the application docs you’ll need to contact Epcor, and they’ll chat with you about the paperwork you need.

At this point you’ll have to commit to the new meter. Epcor (in YEG) will put a bi-directional cumulative meter to count the Watts coming off the grid, and the Watts going on the grid. You likely currently have a unidirectional cumulative meter counting upward).

The Retailer

Once your distribution application is approved, they send over a “Generation Retailer Notification” which tells your retailer (mine is Epcor, but yours could be any of the others) that they should be ready to do the micro-generation billing.  The lady on the phone said that current billing is $1 for use and you get credit for $1 of energy you put back on the grid. You’ll start to see your bills changed here.

No information on 4, 5, or 6 yet. I suspect that I’ll need an electrician to do the work to hook up to the meter.

4. Getting the Solar Panels
5. Installation (mounting them, hooking them up)

Best Practices:

6. Go time

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