On March 6th, the Alberta government announced that their Electricity Statutes (Modernizing Alberta's Electricity Grid) Amendment Act took effect.

This act will help the Alberta's electricity system adapt to new technology and how consumers interact with the grid.

With the help of Albertans and industry stakeholders, Alberta's government is modernizing the electricity grid to continue heading towards a carbon-neutral electricity grid by 2050.

In a media release from March 6th, Minister of Affordability and Utilities Nathan Neudorf stated that this legislation is just one piece of their overall effort to modernize Alberta's electricity system.

"By proclaiming this legislation, we are taking another step towards ensuring an affordable, reliable and sustainable electricity system that will meet the needs of Albertans while encouraging innovation and investment in the energy sector," says Neudorf in the release.

According to the media release, this legislation will help to encourage investment and grow the grid capacity in a few ways.

One of those ways is by allowing businesses in Alberta to build more on-site power generation and energy storage.

They are also allowing businesses to sell excess power to the grid, which will help to reduce the demand on the grid.

In the media release, they say this will help to reduce the cost of electricity, but no figures were provided to show how much the cost could drop by, or when.

By allowing for better energy storage capabilities, the provincial government is hoping to avoid unexpected shortages like we saw on January 13th with the provincewide grid alerts by storing under-utilized power for a later time.

Under the Electricity Statutes (Modernizing Alberta's Electricity Grid) Amendment Act, the Alberta government is following through on their promise to wind-down the Balancing Pool.

Some of the Balancing Pool's legislated duties that became effective January 1st, 2021, include the funding of the decommissioning and reclamation costs associated with certain generation facilities in Alberta, act as the default market participant and provide settlement functions related to certain projects developed under the Small Scale Generation Regulation, and fund initiatives in the electricity industry at the direction of the Minister of Affordability and utilities.

The Small Scale Generation Regulation took effect on January 1, 2019, and under this regulation "The owner of an eligible generating unit may apply to the distribution owner for the service area in which the generating unit is located for the generating unit to be qualified as a small scale generating unit under this Regulation."

Under that regulation, small scale power producers that own a generating unit that is the subject of a community benefits agreement were also able to be qualified as a community generating unit.

While their new Electricity Statutes (Modernizing Alberta's Electricity Grid) Amendment Act allows business owners to sell power back to the grid, the Small Scale Generation Regulation has a standing offer of zero dollars per megawatt hour for electric energy offered to the power pool from small generating units, with the same offer applying to the electricity supplied by small generating units in isolated communities. 

With the Electricity Statutes (Modernizing Alberta's Electricity Grid) Amendment Act allowing storage units, the government says this will reduce the need to build new infrastructure by 'providing non-wire solutions'.

"This will maximize the use of Alberta’s existing grid infrastructure while minimizing the need for costly upgrades, saving Alberta ratepayers their hard-earned dollars," read the media release.

"Given that ATCO Electric’s large and remote service territory spans more than two-thirds of the province but serves only 10 per cent of Alberta’s population, it’s crucial to continue our grid modernization efforts with new systems and technologies that can drive long-term affordability and reliability," explained the President of ATCO Electric Melanie Bayley in the media release. "That’s why we are looking forward to working with the Government of Alberta - ensuring the implementation of Bill 22 and other energy initiatives continue to bring meaningful benefits to residential and industrial customers alike."

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