Community Generated Power

Since the 1970’s, it’s been a common belief that the only real way to “go solar” was to have deep pockets and a great big sun drenched rooftop. And if you didn’t own the roof and were instead renting your home, your options for investing were pretty limited.

Home and business owners who took the plunge and decided to harvest the sun via rooftop solar are enjoying the benefits. But, not everyone has a rooftop of their own. Many people live in apartments, condos, or rent rooms in buildings they can’t make changes to without approval from landlords or condo boards. Seems like pretty limited options persist, to say the least. If only, as a community we could come together and shed some light on the issue...

Enter Energy Efficiency Alberta. Along with its partner organizations, they’ve stepped up to address the renewable energy access challenge.
From their website:
“In response to the growing demand for renewable energy in Alberta, the Government of Alberta is investing $200 million over 20 years in Climate Leadership Plan funds to launch a new Community Generation Program… making it easier for communities to develop their own renewable energy projects, which will reduce greenhouse gas emissions, spur investment, diversify local economies and support local jobs.”

Further adding; “Community generation refers to renewable and alternative energy that is distribution system-connected and provides benefits to communities. Community generation allows communities and citizens to directly participate in energy projects through full or partial ownership of the projects. Participation in community generation projects gives Albertans the ability to access renewable energy and generate revenue by selling electricity to the grid.”

In Alberta’s competitive energy marketplace, this is a game changer. Now all Albertans have the opportunity to not only access renewable energy, but they can affordably become owners in the production of it and sell it into the mainstream grid.

According the the Rocky Mountain Institute, “As a model, community-scale solar has unique attributes that both leverage the best attributes of behind-the-meter-distributed solar and utility-scale solar, respectively, and which set community-scale solar apart from those market segments, including:

·        Access: Community-scale solar is inclusive to all, including low- and moderate-income households and others who can’t go solar via rooftop for a variety of reasons

·        Affordability: Community-scale solar can approach utility-scale prices and compete with wholesale electricity prices

·        Appeal: Community-scale solar leverages many of the distributed benefits of behind-the-meter solar

·        Availability: Community-scale solar makes use of under-utilized land closer to loads, such as brownfields, carports, and large rooftops

·        Affinity: Demand for community-scale solar is building, with interest growing across utilities, community-based organizations, and other stakeholders, and bullish forecasts for installed capacity growth”

At the end of 2018, the Alberta Community Cooperative Association took initiative and hosted two sessions to help Alberta’s understand how they could actually develop renewable energy projects in their communities through a cooperative model. These sessions were well-attended and featured presentations from experts in the renewable energy field - showcasing community-based projects and progress in the renewable energy sector close to home and around the world. It’s interesting to note that Alberta has a rich history of cooperative business model activity, with Rural Electrification Co-Ops as a prime example of a “Made in Alberta solution”. The evolution continues with the emergence of Alberta Solar Co-Op as the province’s first renewable energy cooperative offering.

To learn more about the community renewables opportunity, the Government of Alberta has scheduled a series of open houses across the province in February 2019 to provide more information about the program. Open house participants will learn about community generation, its potential benefits, available funding avenues for projects and much more. Session info can be viewed via Energy Efficiency Alberta’s website here.


Written by:
Rene Michalak