Alberta Proposes Legislation to Modernize Electricity Grid

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May 12, 2022

Bill 22, the Electricity Statutes (Modernizing Alberta’s Electricity Grid) Amendment Act, 2022, builds on legislation first introduced in the fall 2021 session and integrates new technologies and innovations into Alberta’s electricity system.

The proposed amendments would enable energy storage, allow more self-supply with export and help the distribution system plan for electric vehicles, renewable power sources, emerging technologies and other distributed energy resources. It would also begin winding down the Balancing Pool by redistributing its remaining responsibilities and laying the groundwork for its future dissolution.

Together, these changes would encourage investor confidence in Alberta’s electricity grid to increase long-term competition and supply, which leads to more stable and affordable prices for Albertans. This would also make low-carbon alternatives easier to incorporate into the electricity grid without costly subsidies from taxpayers.

The Electricity Statutes (Modernizing Alberta’s Electricity Grid) Amendment Act, 2022 was developed following months of engagement with investors, consumer groups and electricity producers and utilities.

Embracing new technologies and innovations

Bill 22 would encourage adoption and investment in emerging energy systems and technologies, bringing long-term cost savings for consumers and industry.

Energy storage would be integrated into Alberta’s interconnected electricity system in both the competitive electricity market and the transmission and distribution system. This benefits Albertans by creating new opportunities to store energy at times when prices are low for use later and provides non-wires alternatives for further cost savings.

Unlimited self-supply with export

Self-supply with export is the ability of companies to generate power on site for their own use and to sell excess power back to the grid for use by Albertans.

The Electricity Statutes (Modernizing Alberta’s Electricity Grid) Amendment Act, 2022 would enable unlimited self-supply with export while making sure transmission system costs remain balanced among all system participants. Allowing industry to contribute more power supply is another way the government is fostering more competition and long-term affordability for ratepayers.  

Distribution

Further proposed legislative amendments build on the Alberta Utilities Commission Distribution System Inquiry on modernizing Alberta’s electric distribution system to ensure the cost-effective integration of distributed energy resources in the system. The amendments add a requirement for distribution owners to prepare long-term plans as per future regulations, which will describe the outcomes and timing of the plans.

Legislation proposed will also give the Minister of Energy regulation-making authority to allow the government to provide further guidance around a distribution planning framework.

Balancing Pool

Established to support Alberta’s fair, efficient and openly competitive electricity market, the Balancing Pool’s primary role of managing fixed-price deals with electricity producers ended in 2020. Actions taken by the previous government resulted in the Balancing Pool losing $1.34 billion of ratepayer dollars.

The Electricity Statutes (Modernizing Alberta’s Electricity Grid) Amendment Act, 2022 would re-assign many of the current responsibilities of the Balancing Pool. The Balancing Pool would then wind down once it has completed its remaining core statutory responsibilities.

Quick facts

  • The Electricity Statutes (Modernizing Alberta’s Electricity Grid) Amendment Act, 2022 would enable unlimited self-supply with export, which can assist industrial and commercial operators in managing electricity costs, promote the reliability of the integrated electricity system and reduce emissions.
  • Energy storage systems are increasingly viable and could take on a wide range of roles within the electricity system to support lower carbon generation, help manage system costs and improve the overall reliability of the grid.
  • The proposed energy storage amendments would enable competitive procurement of energy storage across the system by introducing new definitions for both an energy storage resource and energy storage facility, setting the stage for their approvals.
  • In addition, the proposed legislation would allow distribution and transmission companies to use this technology to provide utility service under certain circumstances, which may help keep costs down for ratepayers over the long term.

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