Connecting to the Alberta's Electricity Distribution Grid
Since micropower systems need to be mass-marketed, it is really important for all the electric wires companies to have the the same application form,
the same process and the same standards for connecting you to their grid.
Alberta's new micro-generation regulation came into effect on 2009 January 01. It is a direct result of having a new premier and a new energy minister
take the long-awaited action to simplify the regulations and provide the desired uniformity.
Our web page is intended to provide you with all the information you need in order to connect your micropower system to the electrical grid.
The information here is upgraded from time to time. Alberta's electric wires companies need to be providing you with this very same information.
The Micro-Generator Application Form from your electric wires company
Typically electric wires companies also want you to sign an operating agreement and agree to their terms and conditions.
The Interconnection Operating Agreement from your electric wires company
The Terms and Conditions from your electric wires company
You will need to ask them whether this is part of their grid-connection process too. Some of them have simple agreements and some are (way too) technical and (way too) complex.
You also need to supply your electric wires company with a single-line diagram showing the electrical configuration, characteristics and connections of your micropower system.
Here are two simple generic single-line diagrams that you can use in your application to grid connect. These will cover many of the standard configurations for micropower systems.
If your system is more complex than this then you will need to draw your own single-line diagram.
Drawing SLD 1 -- Single Line Diagram for Grid-Dependent Micro-Generators (which do not have a battery bank)
Drawing SLD 2 -- Single Line Diagram for Grid-Interactive Micro-Generators (which do have a battery bank)
Suppliers of your equipment (solar PV, microwind, micro-hydro, Stirling engine, biomass or fuel cell) can provide you with the technical details
about your micropower system to be used in your Micro-Generation Application Form and for the single-line diagram.
Alberta's Electric Wires Companies -- your first contact (and hopefully the only contact you need)
Electric Wires Companies are the companies that deliver your electrical energy to you. It is important to understand that you connect your micropower system to the wires of
the electric wires companies and not to the electrical energy retailer that sends you your electricity bill. Your electric wires company is shown on your electricity bill
after the billing from your energy retailer.
Electric wires companies are also called Wires Owners, Wires Service Providers, Distribution Facilities Owners and Distribution Service Operators.
Two electric wires companies are private (ATCO Electric and Fortis Alberta), eight are owned by towns and cities (EPCOR in Edmonton, ENMAX in Calgary, Red Deer Electric Light and Power, Medicine Hat,
Lethbridge, Cardston, Ponoka, Pincher Creek, Crowsnest Pass) and several dozen are farmer co-ops called Rural Electrification Associations (REAs).
REAs are scattered throughout ATCO Electric's and Fortis Alberta's areas. Some REAs operate their own electric distribution system. Some hire Fortis Alberta or ATCO Electric to operate their electric distribution system.
Here are the web sites and documents for each of the electric wires companies. Note that I am still collecting the documents from each of them, so this will change.
Electrical Energy Retailers are the companies that sell you your electrical energy and send you your electricity bill. It is important to understand that
any electricity that your micropower system exports to the grid is sold to your electrical energy retailer and not to your electric wires company.
You can find out more about electrical energy retailer options through the Utilities Consumer Advocate.
Alberta now has a net billing programme to provide you with credit for your exported electricity. This is not the same as net metering.
ENMAX Energy has a nice description of how net billing works.
In Alberta, you can either choose your own electrical energy retailer or decide not to.
What I have heard from EPCOR is that you will get a second line item on your electricity bill that will show how much energy you have exported.
Once you get approval to connect your micropower system you will likely need to contact your energy retailer to add your system to their billing.
Alberta's Electric Industry Laws and Regulations
Here are the web sites and documents describing Alberta's laws regarding electric utilities and the generation of electrical energy. Some of these documents are very long, very legal and very technical.
I can appreciate that you may not want to read them, which is fine... but you are still governed by them and they form part of your contract with the electric wires companies. I thought to at least
show them here so that you can have easy access to them if you want to look at them.
Alberta Electrical Information Safety Bulletin STANDATA LEG-ECR-2 -- the requirements for electrical safety code markings on electrical equipment in Alberta (1 page)
Your micropower system's grid-interface equipment (which is typically a DC to AC inverter) will need to meet the technical specifications of the electric wires company. In 2002,
Alberta's electric industry agreed to a common set of technical specifications that all micropower systems connected to the grid should meet.
Click here to download them. (67 pages)
Typically your inverter is designed to meet them so you as a consumer don't have to know about these standards. Your equipment supplier, however, will need to have confirmed that
the equipment they are offering to the market properly meets these standards. You may want to ask your equipment supplier to verify that their equipment meets these standards.
If you find anything here that is not correct, please let us know.
Please contact us if you have any questions about anything presented here.
We welcome all comments, critique, suggestions and challenges to anything we present.
Howell-Mayhew Engineering, Inc.
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Phone: +1 780 484 0476 GMT-7 (Mountain Time)
E-mail: ghowell (at) hme (dot) ca
Attn: Gordon Howell, P.Eng.
P.S. Before we had the micro-generation regulation, the Alberta Energy and Utilities Board asked me twice to do a noise impact assessment for a solar power system.
Here is a copy of them if you are ever asked for one.