What is Micro-generation?

Micro-generation is the production of heat or electricity, on a very small scale, typically for domestic use, using environmentally friendly methods such as solar panels, small-scale hydro, wind, biomass, micro-cogeneration, geothermal, and fuel cells.

What is the micro-generation regulation?
On February 1, 2008, the government of Alberta issued the Micro-Generation Regulationexternal link icon which allows Albertans to generate their own environmentally friendly electricity and receive credit for any power they send into the electrical grid.

How does this affect me?

Customers are provided more choices for how to source their electricity.

The local wire service provider, also called the distribution company, looks after connecting a micro-generatorís system.†Individual micro-generators do not have to pay for the ordinary and reasonable costs of interconnection and meter infrastructure as these costs are shared by all customers in the distribution companyís service area.†This is monitored by the Alberta Utilities Commission to ensure costs passed on to the customers are fair.

The customer's electricity retailer must manage the administration and billing of the excess energy sent into the grid.†This saves the micro-generator customer direct and indirect administration costs. Credit is received for electricity supplied to the grid, which allows customers to obtain value for every kilowatt-hour (kWh) they generate and donít use.

Micro-generators in Alberta

January Statistics Sites* Combined Capacity
(megawatts)
2015 1147 6.6
2014 888 4.5
2013 639 3.1
2012 355 1.3
2011 216 0.7
2010 122 0.4

*Includes installed micro-generation systems and pending sites that have requested connection.

The Alberta Electric System Operator publishes quarterly micro-generation reportsexternal link icon .

How do I become a micro-generator?

All customers who want to become a micro-generator must apply to their distribution company (also known as the wire service provider) to get approval to connect and operate a generating unit.

The Alberta Utilities Commissionexternal link icon (AUC) is responsible for overseeing the implementation of the Micro-generation Regulation and has developed the Micro-Generator Application Guidelinesexternal link icon to assist micro-generators with the application process.

The first step in applying is to contact your distribution company to inform them that you plan to install a micro-generation unit. The Utilities Consumer Advocateexternal link icon at 310-4-UCA maintains a list of†retailers and distributorsexternal link icon for Alberta. You can also find your company on your electricity bill.

After notifying your distribution company of your intent to become a micro-generator, there are a series of steps that must be completed.†These steps are part of the AUCís guidelines and include, but are not limited to:

  • consulting with an electrical contractor;
  • getting municipal permits;
  • preparing a site plan.

When these steps have been completed, an application may be submitted. The AUC supplies the application form as part of its guidelines.†The application form is submitted to your distribution company.

Micro-generation customers are also required to sign an interconnection agreement with the distribution company. The distribution company (also known as the wire service provider) owns the distribution system for your home, farm, business or industry.†The distribution system carries electricity from the provincial transmission lines to consumers.†The distribution company reviews and approves micro-generation applications, installs meters, and provides metering data to retailers and the Alberta Electric System Operatorexternal link icon for settlement. Small micro-generators may also choose to install a meter that allows them to receive credit for excess electricity based on wholesale market prices rather than retail rates.

You must also notify your electricity retailer to discuss the information required by your retailer for compensation and billing. Your electricity retailer credits you for excess electricity that you return to the grid. The rate at which you are credited is agreed upon between you and your electricity retailer. The government does not decide what this rate should be. Your retailer collects from the AESO for crediting you for the excess at the same rate that you paid when buying electricity from the grid. The way these credits flow between you, your retailer and the AESO is described under the Micro-generation Regulation.

If there is a dispute between the micro-generator and the distribution company or retailer that cannot be resolved, it may be referred to the AUC, the provincial regulator.

In all cases the micro-generator must prove that greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the system are 418 kilograms per megawatt hour (kg/MWh) or less of electricity and/or useful heat generated. This ensures that all micro-generators will have lower GHGs than a typical combined cycle natural gas power plant.

For more information;

What is net metering and net billing and what does this have to do with micro-generation?
Are micro-generator customers still responsible for paying administration, distribution, transmission, riders and local municipal fees on their bill?
Does the Government of Alberta provide financial incentives or grants for micro-generators?