While details of the Alberta Climate change program keep trickling out, many of those interested in alternative energy are still looking for some answers.
Shortly before Christmas, the Alberta government announced more flexibility on how Albertans can generate power. One change to the regulations is that it will increase microgeneration capacity from one megawatt to five megawatts and allowing a microgeneration system to serve adjacent sites.
Some are seeing this as a step forward.
“Having spent years giving workshops across Alberta, there is a huge appetite from Alberta farms to homeowners to universities to take advantage of solar’s rapidly falling costs. The changes announced today are a useful step towards unlocking more of our province’s vast solar potential,” said Rob Harlan, Executive Director, Solar Energy Society of Alberta.
Ross Rawlusyk of Starland County, which has been on the forefront of alternative energy, says they are in limbo.
“We have been waiting for some time for some clarity on what new alternative energy regulations are going to be, and we still don’t have anything,” he said.
He says there are a couple wind projects in the area, which there are hopes they are moving forward. The projects have the approval of the Alberta Electric System operator (AEOS), which means they are very close to being developed.
“If you were starting something from scratch and you need to go through the AESO approval process, it is probably a year,” he said.
He explains in Alberta, many developers are waiting for some clarity on how alternative energy developers will be reimbursed for the power produced. Initially, there was a plan to initiate a bid system for alternative energy proponents to submit bids to the Province for the supply of green energy.
“That deadline was extended, and recently extended again. So the big issue for Alberta companies is that solar development and large scale wind developments are waiting for the bid opportunity,” he said.
While there are tremendous worries about switching from coal power, he says there could be some opportunities. One of his worries is they may lose local companies who are interested because of the delays.
“Of course, people who want to develop more solar projects, are also waiting for some clarity, because the economics of a project are in doubt now. So, Alberta’s fledgling solar industry is probably trying to hold on until the rules become clear,” he said. Meanwhile, Ontario companies are sitting and waiting and observing this process, and they are certainly getting ready to participate in alternative energy projects in Alberta.”