Solar power for homes and businesses
We've already seen a dramatic increase in the pace of solar panel installations by Edmonton customers. In 2020 alone, more than 300 homes and businesses added solar arrays. To support customers, we streamlined its processes and provided customers with the
information and resources they need to become independent power producers.
We're also working with Edmonton customers who are connecting 20 MW of distributed power generation to the grid through six large solar installations at commercial buildings, recreation centers and a school.
As of November 2020, 1702 solar panel sites have been installed in Edmonton, up from fewer than 50 a decade ago.
How solar panels work on Edmonton's power grid
Once installed, solar panels start converting sunlight to electricity. Any electricity not used at the home or business at that time is sent to the electrical grid for others to use. The advanced power meter at the home or business measures the amount of electrical energy produced at the site and sends that data to the customer's retailer of choice to credit the customer's bill. Customers will see a credit if they produce more energy than they use, in any given measurement interval.
In Alberta, electricity generation, including solar panels, is regulated by the Alberta Utilities Commission (AUC) under Rule 024 and reported to the Alberta Electric System Operator. EPCOR is working with the AUC as it updates Rule 024 that regulates micro-generation in Alberta.
To better understand how larger solar panel installations work with Edmonton's power grid, we installed 331 solar panels at its Hugh J. Bolton Service Center. The installation is capable of generating 124.4 kWh at peak performance. In a typical year, we expect the panels will produce about 130,000 kWh per year — equivalent to the average annual power consumption of 15 homes.
Advanced meters helping facilitate solar power and more
Did you know the move to advanced meters helped to reduce the steps involved in getting a customer's site ready for solar panels? Older models of power meters only recorded the flow of power into a home. Previously, a special bi-directional meter had to be installed onto a customer's home so they could receive the credits for the excess energy produced at their site.
The advanced electricity meters we use in Edmonton are bi-directional (they record the flow of electricity into and out of the home) and are ready to accommodate this new technology. When the advanced metering system was first implemented, it helped to identify sites that had solar panels installed but not registered as power producers. Through this identification, we worked with customers to help reduce a safety risk to its crews from the back-feeding energy while working nearby, and to ensure customers were being reimbursed for the excess energy they were delivering to the grid.
Researching the benefits of battery storage
Battery energy storage systems for consumers typically store enough energy to supply an average home in Edmonton for one day. They are typically installed in regions where a backup power supply is desired. Batteries are also beneficial in areas that use Time-of-Use pricing instead of the flat fee per kWh that is regulated for smaller energy customers in Alberta. Time-of-Use customers store energy from the power grid when prices are lower and draw energy from the battery at times when the price of power is higher.
Because Edmonton's electricity grid is reliable, and smaller customers receive flat rate energy pricing, there are few batteries installed on the EPCOR power grid. However, if regulations change to support wide adoption of Time-of-Use pricing, we will likely see more batteries. At-home batteries may also increase their role in supporting rapid EV charging at home.
There are potential benefits for industrial and commercial customers who require a reliable and affordable flow of power. To better understand the challenges and benefits of integrating large scale battery storage to the system, we're piloting battery use with the solar array at the E.L. Smith Water Treatment Plant, and installing a modern control system (a Distributed Energy Resource Management System, or DERMS) that will allow our electricity operators to have better awareness of how distributed generation is functioning and impacting the electrical system.
Conservation tips and resources
Through online resources and community initiatives, we provide information on how to efficiently use electricity, gas and water to reduce your environmental footprint, as well as ways to increase the resilience of your properties.
- Our partnership with
Empower Me helps diverse communities in Alberta understand their services and bills, and how to make their homes more energy efficient.
- Customers interested in adopting green energy, such as
electric vehicles or
self-generation of electricity, can learn how to proceed and how we're preparing our local electricity grid to support their choices.
epcor.com/floodprevention, Edmonton customers can learn how to flood proof their homes and about the flood prevention home checkup and backwater valve subsidy programs we provide.