The Alberta government has introduced legislation that would allow companies to generate as much of their own electricity as they want and sell any surplus back to the provincial power grid.
In addition to covering all forms of electricity generation, “Bill 86 would encourage forms of energy storage—the ability to keep excess electricity for later use—like battery storage systems which could help deal with the ‘intermittency’ of renewable energy, decrease carbon emissions, and improve the reliability of the power grid,” CBC reports, citing remarks Wednesday by Dale Nally, the province’s associate minister of natural gas and electricity.
“This would allow all companies that want to produce electricity for their own use, as well as sell it back to the marketplace, to participate,” Nally said.
“Businesses, using energy storage, could purchase cheap electricity at night, sell it back into the marketplace during the day,” he added. “And it is this type of increased competition and increased choice that will bring down the cost of electricity in this province.”
Until now, the province has only permitted self-supply or electricity exports in specific circumstances related to municipal utilities and designated industrial sites, CBC says.
Provincial rules under Bill 86 would require participating companies to meet public health and safety standards and pay what Nally called an “appropriate tariff”, set by the Alberta Electric System Operator, to keep them from driving up electricity costs for consumers. The new system will also help Alberta prepare for the rise of electric vehicle charging, rooftop solar, and bidirectional charging between EVs and the grid.
CBC notes that the announcement follows a report in February, in which the Alberta Utilities Commission concluded that emerging technologies are already “creating new avenues for customers to potentially bypass utility service and the associated tariff changes.” That trend “not only creates competitive pressures where none existed before, but also raises questions about the future viability of electric utilities and the role of regulation during a period of significant industry transformation.”
The commission added that the adoption of battery storage by consumers large and small was “bringing the prospect of independence from the grid closer to reality.”