Community Generation FAQ

What is a qualifying community?

The Small-scale Generation Regulation defines a qualifying community using a list of eligible community groups. The proposed groups include: societies, community leagues and associations, co-operatives, educational institutions, Indigenous groups, municipalities and non-profit organizations located in Alberta. For the full list of eligible community groups, please refer to the Regulation.

Why is the Small-scale Generation Regulation necessary?

Recent changes to the Micro-generation Regulation have provided more flexibility for some generators; however, to better enable small-scale and community generation, the Small-scale Generation Regulation will provide definitions and rules to move forward while reducing some market participation barriers. 

Some stakeholders have said that a new regulation isn’t necessary because they can achieve the same outcomes under current structure; however, these types of projects have not been developed to date in Alberta.  

  • Alberta’s current electricity regulatory framework does not prohibit the development of community generation-type projects. However, current low electricity prices in Alberta make investment in all forms of new electricity generation challenging. Regulatory requirements (Alberta Utilities Commission rules and Independent System Operator rules) are often too administratively or financially burdensome for development of non-utility scale renewable energy projects. 
  • The policy provides for the establishment of a default market participant for small-scale generators. This participant will offer energy to the pool on behalf of the generator, liaise with the Alberta Electric System Operator and coordinate any payments for excess energy to the grid.
Who did government consult with when developing this policy? 

The Alberta government engaged with stakeholders in 2017 on regulatory aspects such as roles, processes, procedures, definitions, and possible programs to support community generation. 

Participants included: alternative and renewable energy developers, non-governmental organizations, distribution utilities, electricity retailers, industry associations, incumbent generators, agencies, consumer groups, municipalities, and others. 

The Alberta government also engaged with Indigenous stakeholders through the Indigenous Electricity Technical Working Group. 

In addition, the Alberta Utilities Commission conducted a review on the distribution system readiness and potential for accommodating an increase in distribution-connected generation. This review was open to interested industry stakeholders and associations along with Indigenous communities and the general public

Why do we need this new policy? What will this policy allow?

Alberta doesn’t have a policy in place for distribution-connected alternative and renewable generation sized to supply electricity to the grid—or net-to-grid.  

To enable small-scale and community generation, a new regulation is needed to provide definitions and rules to move forward.  

Small-scale and community generation will contribute toward Alberta’s target of 30 per cent renewable electricity by 2030 under the Climate Leadership Plan by empowering climate action at the local level.

Is there a size limit on a small-scale or community-generation unit?

There would be no size limit placed on a small-scale or community generation unit. However, because of connection to the distribution system, the size would naturally be constrained by the distribution system’s capacity, which can typically reach up to a maximum of 25 megawatts.

Can micro-generators participate?

Micro-generation is intended for self-supply so if a generator is interested in small-scale or community generation, they would have to apply to the Alberta Utilities Commission and make the necessary upgrades to become a small-scale or community generator.

Information for Indigenous and coal-affected communities:

This initiative provides another way for Indigenous communities and organizations to develop renewable energy and contribute to emissions reductions while supporting jobs, a healthier environment, and a more diversified economy.  

The Alberta government is committed to ensuring that all Albertans are able to participate in and benefit from Alberta’s Climate Leadership Plan. This initiative is another way to create meaningful partnerships with Indigenous communities. 

Community generation complements the Indigenous Climate Leadership Initiative which includes a suite of seven grant funding programs that cover up to 100 per cent of eligible costs. 

The Alberta government has engaged with Indigenous communities about best approaches and we will continue to work together as policy and programs are developed. 

Phasing out air pollution from coal fired electricity directly impacts workers and jobs, which is why up to $50 million will be used for projects that support coal-affected communities. Coal communities have a proud history of helping power a prosperous and industrious province, and government wants them to continue to be places where people can build a good life for themselves and their families.