Homeowners could sell solar for profit under rule change

Alberta is looking at changing regulations so that people who generate their own wind or solar electricity can earn money selling the excess back to the power grid.
The public was able to talk to people in the solar energy industry at conference at NAIT on Saturday. (Emily Fitzpatrick/CBC News )

Alberta is looking at changing regulations so that people who generate their own wind or solar electricity can earn money selling the excess electricity back to the power grid.

Regulations that came into effect in 2009 limit the capacity of these smaller electricity production units known as micro-generators to one megawatt or less.

Any excess electricity generated by these systems is credited to the homeowner's power bill and can't be produced for profit.

Edmonton NDP MLA Richard Feehan says the government is looking at changing that.

"If you're a farmer, for example, and you want to have some solar on your field or on your barn or on your home, right now the best you can do is actually reduce your own energy costs," he said.

"We may be able to transform that so that a farmer becomes an energy producer as well as a cattle producer, or a grain producer."

The legislative assembly passed a motion introduced by Feehan last fall urging the government to move ahead on changing the micro-generation regulations.

MLA Richard Feehan introduced a motion urging the government to change micro-generation regulations. It was passed by the legislative assembly in late November. (Emily Fitzpatrick/CBC News )

Solar energy can create jobs 

Feehan was one of the speakers at a conference on solar micro-generation organized by the Solar Energy Society of Alberta.

Sinking oil prices has prompted the Alberta government to look at diversifying the economy to lessen its dependence on oil and gas revenues.

The province also intends to phase out coal-generated power plants and increase the development of renewable energy sources under its new climate change policy. 

SESA executive director Rob Harlan says green power has the potential to create more jobs because most coal and gas-fired plants are automated.

"If you look at societies like Germany which is quite advanced in their applications with solar, one out of every three electricians is a solar installer," he said. "Well paid. Good work."

Feehan said the government soon plans to hold consultations on the proposed changes with new regulations coming forward by this fall. 


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