By Collin Gallant on April 1, 2017.
Medicine Hat News
The Alberta Utilities Commission will begin exploring how to foster more micro-generated green energy and approve smaller-scale community-sized facilities, it was announced Friday.
That comes on the same day provincial regulators opened a year-long process to evaluate supply price proposals from major utility companies. The results of the low-bid auction will be announced by the end of the year and could see two or three major wind or solar facilities produce 400-megawatts by 2019.
Currently in Alberta only 16 megawatts of power is produced via “microgeneration” — comprising about 1,700 sites that see panels and turbines on homes, public buildings or businesses.
However, interest and potential is growing, said Minister of Energy Margaret McCuaig-Boyd, and increases could add up.
“Albertans have a growing interest in powering their own homes or communities and putting clean electricity back into the grid,” she said. “(It) is the next logical step in promoting green electricity and helping us meet our target of 30 per cent renewable power by 2030. I look forward to the AUC’s report.”
The New Democratic Government has set the goal of having 30 per cent of the province’s power needs supplied by renewable sources by 2030, equal to about 5,000 megawatts.
The AUC says over the next nine months it will meet with utilities, consumer groups, developers and others to determine barriers and possible supports to getting more smaller-scale projects.
Earlier this year the province announced its renewable energy program would offer up to 30 per cent the cost of installing solar panels on individual residences.
A total of $36 million will be spent from carbon levy funds to support a Residential and Commercial Solar Program, which included non-profit agencies. A rebate program for municipalities and farms is available on a per-watt basis.
On-farm solar subsidies are also being discussed as Growing Forward 2 agriculture subsidies are being developed for 2019.