FAQs

ENVIRONMENTAL ATTRIBUTES

What is an environmental attribute in the context of solar PV systems?

Environmental attributes are defined as potential benefits that arise from the creation of renewable energy as a displacement for electricity generated by non-renewable sources. The attribute becomes the reduction in Greenhouse Gases or air emissions that would otherwise have happened had non-renewable sourced electricity been used. The environmental attributes can also be defined as products that are created or otherwise arise from the renewable energy project, including but not limited to renewable energy certificates (REC), solar renewable energy certificates (SREC), or carbon offset credits (collectively the “attributes”). For the purpose of the Residential and Commercial Solar Program (RCSP) the environmental attributes are quantified as tonnes of Carbon Dioxide Equivalents (CO2e).

 

What happens to the environmental attributes generated from solar PV projects that have received RCSP incentive funding?

All environmental attributes arising from solar PV projects that have received RCSP incentive funding are kept by Energy Efficiency Alberta. This is one of the terms of participating in the RCSP.

 

Why does Energy efficiency Alberta keep the environmental attributes from the solar PV projects that have received RCSP funding?

The RCSP has been designed to be an easily accessible one-stop-shop for valuing the carbon reductions from residential and commercial solar installations. To account for the emission reductions created by the program, these carbon reductions / environmental attributes need to remain with Energy Efficiency Alberta so they cannot be sold to a third-party (e.g. as a REC or carbon offset) to account for their own emission reduction or renewable energy targets as this may nullify or reduce the net emission reductions that the RCSP generates. Energy Efficiency Alberta keeps the environmental attributes from the solar PV projects that have received RCSP funding as a contribution to meeting our province’s commitment of emissions reductions outlined in the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change.

 

What does Energy Efficiency Alberta do with the environmental attributes from RCSP funded solar PV projects?

Energy Efficiency Alberta keeps all environmental attributes and retires them immediately after they are created. This is done to ensure these attributes are not traded or otherwise monetized.  Trading of these environmental attributes would reduce or negate absolute emissions reductions that EEA is targeting with programs such as RCSP.

 

How can an owner of a solar PV system keep their environmental attributes?

If you are a homeowner, a business owner or a non-profit and you would like to receive an RCSP incentive payment to help offset the cost of your solar installation, you cannot keep your environmental attributes.

If you would like to keep your environmental attributes you may do so, but you are not eligible for the RCSP incentive.

PROGRAM RESULTS

How many jobs in the solar industry will be supported as a result of this program?

The program is expected to support the creation of 900 jobs in the Province of Alberta.

 

What GHG reductions can Albertans expect from this program?

For the Residential and Commercial Solar Program, we anticipate total GHG reductions of half a million tonnes by March 2019 – the equivalent of taking 100,000 passenger vehicles off the road for one year.

 

How much solar energy do you anticipate will be generated from this program?

The Residential and Commercial Solar Program is expected to result in approximately 48 MW of installed capacity.

 

How many Albertans have taken advantage of the RCSP?

As of March 2018 there have been approximately 500 solar systems installed that have received the RCSP incentive in Alberta. This includes all residential, commercial and non-profit and total approximately 3.5 MW of installed of solar power!

PROGRAM ELIGIBILITY

Why do I have to be connected to the grid to qualify?

The RCSP program design and delivery is required to comply with the Government of Alberta’s Micro-generation Regulation (AR27/2008), which requires micro-generation systems to be grid-connected. Off-grid systems do not qualify for the RCSP incentive.

 

Do federally-owned buildings qualify for the RCSP?

No, federally-owned buildings do not qualify for this program.

 

Are co-ops eligible for the incentive?

Yes.

 

Are farms or food processing plants eligible for the incentive?

  • The Government of Alberta currently offers energy efficiency and renewable energy programs targeting the farming/agricultural sector through the Growing Forward 2 program.
  • If your farm is eligible for the Growing Forward 2 program, it is not eligible for the RCSP.
  • Eligibility for the Growing Forward 2 program is based on your distribution rate class. If your facility has a farm or farm equivalent rate class, you are only eligible for the Growing Forward 2 program, unless your Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) reportable farming income is $10,000 annually or less.

 

We do not own our space. Can we still participate in the program?

Yes, however the owner of the property where the solar array will be located must approve the application.

 

Can a school board, school, rec centre, etc. apply to this program?

  • Please check eligibility of your facility with the Alberta Municipal Solar Program before applying for this program. Many recreation centres, and other public buildings qualify under this program.
  • Those already funded under provincial solar programming will not be eligible for this incentive.

 

I have a farm/business that is operated on my residential property – what type of application should I submit?

  • A residential system is any system where the electric bill associated with the site ID used in the application is paid by a resident living at that location, or by another person on behalf of a resident living at that location.
  • The application will remain a residential application regardless of co-location of a business or non-profit organization associated with the residence.
  • Any system which is not classified as a residential system will be considered a commercial or non-profit system, depending on the entity paying the electric bill associated with the site ID of that RCSP application.
  • Please reference section 3.1 of the program Terms and Conditions.

 

Are mobile homes eligible for the incentive?

Mobile homes are eligible for the program if a permanently installed ground mount system is placed adjacent to the mobile home. Roof mount systems on mobile homes are not eligible through the Residential and Commercial Solar Program.

 

Are apartments/condos able to apply for the program?

  • Single and multi-family homes are eligible.
  • Landlords can apply to the program as a single commercial application.
  • Condo corporations who are incorporated as a non-profit organization are eligible.
  • Individual condo owners who wish to install a PV system for their own private use, would need to seek approval from the condo board and complete a residential application.

 

My system was interconnected prior to April 15, 2017 and therefore ineligible. Will I be eligible if I expand the system?

  • Expansions to systems installed prior to April 15, 2017 are encouraged, however only the expansion portion of the system is eligible for the incentive.

 

Are community leagues eligible for the residential and commercial solar program?

  • Community leagues are eligible for the Alberta Municipal Solar Program, therefore ineligible for the Residential and Commercial Solar Program.
  • Please visit the Alberta Municipal Solar Program Website for additional information.

The following products are not supported by the Residential and Commercial Solar Program:

  • Solar powered water heaters
  • Solar light tubes
  • Solar signs
  • Solar LED fixtures
  • Solar battery storage systems
  • Solar integrated chillers

PROGRAM INCENTIVE LEVELS

How is the incentive paid to Albertans?

All incentives will be made by direct deposit to the bank account of your choice. From the time information is submitted, incentives are expected to take approximately 5-10 business days to be processed. If necessary information was omitted or the form is incomplete, processing may be delayed.

The incentive is paid only when the project is completed, interconnection approval is granted, the project is energized and Part II of the application process has been approved by the program implementer.

 

How were the incentive levels chosen?

Incentive levels went through extensive modelling by Inclime Solutions Inc., Energy Efficiency Alberta and a third party consultant, Dunsky Energy Consulting.

 

What will the RCSP cost the province, and where did the funds come from?

  • The total program budget is $36 million.
  • Revenue from the carbon levy provides funds for incentives that are designed to enable families and communities to invest in energy-saving products, solar panels and retrofits of homes and buildings.

 

How is the $36 million broken down? How are incentives disbursed?

  • Incentives will be disbursed on a first-come, first-served basis as applications are received and processed by the program delivery contractor (if the applicant meets eligibility criteria).
  • Although there is not a strict allocation of funds between the residential sector and the commercial and non-profit sector, we project that it will be broken down as follows:
    • $21 million toward the residential sector
    • $15 million toward the commercial and non-profit sector

 

How long will the RCSP run for?

Funding of $36 million (including administrative costs) is available until March 2020, with program evaluation after the first two years to inform the future of the program.

 

What if incentives run out before the end of March 2020?

Funds are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

The program is managed on a fiscal year basis (March – April). When available funding in each fiscal year is fully committed, applicants will be automatically placed on a waiting list in the order of their Part 1 approval and any additional funds that become available will be distributed to Part 1 approved systems on the waiting list queue.

 

Some Albertans have already installed solar systems. Is this program retroactive?

Yes, this program will be retroactive for systems within Alberta that received interconnection approval on or after April 15, 2017. Systems that were installed prior to April 15, 2017 are not eligible for the incentive.

 

Why are we doing a capital cost incentive program?

During the engagement process led by the Energy Efficiency Advisory Panel, we heard that one of the biggest barriers to small-scale solar adoption is the upfront capital cost.

YOUR APPLICATION

Can I check on the status of my application?

Yes, you will be able to check the status of your application online at www.efficiencyalberta.ca/solar once you login.

 

How will my private information be handled?

  • The minimum amount of information is collected in order to process the incentive payment.
  • Private information is collected via an encrypted connection between the customer’s computer and the program manager’s Canadian-based server.
  • It is encrypted before being stored on the server, and no paper copies of the application are maintained by the program manager.

 

The current production shown on the inverter meter reading photo is negligible. Is this photo still required?

Yes, this information is used to track the production of the system over a period of time. When/if the system is audited the production of the system over the time elapsed can be determined.

 

Why is GST considered an ineligible expense for reimbursement through the program?

As the incentive is utilizing Carbon Levy funds, The Government of Alberta does not provide incentives on provincial taxes based on public policy.

 

Is the incentive taxable?

No. Energy Efficiency Alberta is not issuing incentives in a manner that makes them reportable or taxable.

CONTRACTORS AND SOLAR PV INSTALLATION

Is there a qualified contractor list, like in some other jurisdictions?

 

What if I’m misinformed about incentive details by my contractor?

The Solar Energy Society of Alberta (SESA) has a complaints resolution and disciplinary process for their listed contractor members. You can use this process to file a complaint.

Energy Efficiency Alberta and Inclime Inc. will not be responsible for program misrepresentation by contractors.

 

You mentioned that systems must be installed by a “qualified installer” – what does that mean? Do they need to be registered or certified?

  • Solar installers must be on either the SESA or CANSIA directory to be eligible to participate in the RCSP.
  • Photovoltaic systems must be installed by qualified workers.
    • In Alberta, solar PV installations must be completed by certified electricians, or registered apprentices working under the supervision of a certified electrician, that comply with the Electrician Trade Regulation 274/2000 and Apprenticeship and Industry Training Act, and any applicable trade regulations.
    • Some electricians have additional solar-specific design and installation certification via Canadian Standards Association (CSA), the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP), or another equivalent solar specific certification program. This is not required of your installer, but electricians with additional training or certification in solar design and installation are available should you wish to hire one.
    • Resources are available on the SESA website including how to choose a solar installer checklist.

WHAT DO I NEED TO KNOW BEFORE I APPLY FOR THE INCENTIVE?

How do I know if solar PV is right for my home?

There are a number of factors that impact a PV system’s performance, including:

  • Is your roof south facing? Does your roof receive direct sunlight with limited shading? Is your roof in satisfactory condition? Can your roof be accessed for installation and maintenance? SESA has resources for how to find a solar installer that would be useful for anyone considering solar.
  • Consider doing a calculation on the return on investment of solar based on your specific utility costs and electricity needs.

It’s important to have a discussion with a solar service provider to determine if a PV system is the right choice for your home.  Please see the following consumer guides for information on how to select a solar installer and questions to ask:

SESA Residential guide to going solar

SESA Solar Toolkit (provides guidance on how to calculate the return on investment of a solar project)

SESA How to choose a solar provider checklist

CANSIA Consumer guide for going solar

 

I want to ensure that I qualify for the incentive before I purchase any products. Is there a way to do that?

  • Yes, customers may opt for pre-approval via solar.efficiencyalberta.ca
  • Pre-approval is optional and allows customers/contractors to submit a list of planned products for purchase to ensure they qualify for the incentive and find out how much the incentive would be.
  • Please see the RCSP Terms and Conditions for details on eligible costs.

 

What is the average overall cost to install a solar system?

  • Solar PV installation costs vary considerably and are largely dependent on the system size (larger systems benefit from economies of scale), and geographical location (installation costs may vary in different parts of the province, from one solar installer to another).
  • For example, installation costs can vary anywhere from $2 per watt for larger systems to $3.50 per watt for smaller household systems.
  • We recommend contacting local solar providers to get pricing information.
  • The Solar Energy Society of Alberta provides a directory of Alberta solar providers on their webpage. You can visit this link.

 

Will there be financing options offered for the RCSP?

  • Energy Efficiency Alberta does not offer a financing program at this time. However, Energy Efficiency Alberta’s program offerings will grow and change over time, so please check back regularly or sign up for our online newsletter to hear about future programs.
  • If an installed system is leased or financed through a third-party solar contractor, it may still be eligible for the program.

 

How much electricity can I generate from my solar PV system?

According to Alberta’s Micro-Generation Regulation, you can install enough solar modules to produce up to 100 per cent of your net annual energy consumption; however, other factors, like available roof space, may also limit the size of your PV system. The Alberta Micro-Generation Regulation also limits the size of a single system to 5 Mega-Watts.

 

How do I get compensated for exporting excess electricity to the grid?

Alberta’s Micro-Generation Regulation outlines how micro-generators are compensated by their wire services provider for sending their excess electricity to the grid. Generally you receive a bill credit for the power sent to the grid which is compensated at your retail rate. This is commonly referred to as net billing.

QUESTIONS ABOUT MICROGENERATION (SMALL SCALE SOLAR)

What is micro-generation?

  • Micro-generation is the production of electricity on a small-scale, using renewable and alternative energy sources, typically solar and wind, by individual home owners and small businesses, as well as municipal and community buildings to meet their electricity needs.
  • Alberta has the Micro-generation regulation that defines micro-generation for Albertans, and also enables homeowners and businesses to install micro-generation on their homes and facilities to supply their own electricity needs.

 

What is Alberta’s Micro-Generation Regulation? How does it impact my participation in the Residential and Commercial Solar Program?

The Micro-Generation Regulation, established in 2008, allows Albertans to meet their own electricity needs by generating electricity from renewable or alternative energy sources. In order to qualify for an incentive, applicants must be an approved micro-generator under Alberta’s Micro-Generation Regulation.

Under the regulation, micro-generators receive credits for the excess electricity that they produce and export back to the grid.

  • Albertans who want to become a micro-generator must apply to their distribution company (also known as the wire service provider) to get approval to connect and operate a generating unit.
  • The Utilities Consumer Advocate at 310-4-UCA maintains a list of retailers and distributors for Alberta.
  • You can also find your company on your electricity bill.
  • The Solar Energy Society provides a directory of wire service providers on their webpage.

For more information on Alberta’s Micro-generation Regulation, please visit this link.

PROGRAM ADMINISTRATION DETAILS

Who is delivering the program? Do they have experience running programs like this?

  • InClime Solutions was selected to deliver the program using an open, competitive RFP process.
  • InClime Solutions Inc. is the Canadian subsidiary of InClime, a leading solar program management company.
  • InClime and the InClime team have been helping launch and run solar incentive programs since 2008.
  • They currently run renewable or energy efficiency programs in Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Delaware, and Missouri as well as the Alberta Residential and Commercial Solar Program.

 

What is the purpose of hiring a program delivery contractor?

  • The Request for Proposals ensures that detailed program design and delivery occurs in an effective and prompt manner on behalf of Energy Efficiency Alberta by hiring an expert program delivery contractor.
  • In this case, it procures the services of experts in the field of program implementation for small scale renewable energy projects to help Energy Efficiency Alberta build a renewable energy services industry in the province.

SOLAR TECHNOLOGY QUESTIONS

Where can I find more information on solar technology, Alberta solar installers, or information on existing provincial solar programs in Alberta?

There are multiple resources available online, including:

 

Is Alberta a good place for solar PV?

  • According to Natural Resources Canada, Alberta has one of the best solar resources in Canada.
  • The following chart compares the solar resource potential in various municipalities in Canada and internationally. It is of note that Calgary (with a potential of 1292 kWh/kW) has a greater solar resource potential than Rio De Janeiro, Brazil (with a potential of 1253 kWh/kW), assuming south facing panels with a latitude tilt. (Data provided by Natural Resources Canada).

 

Major Canadian cities and capitals

Major cities worldwide

Municipality

Yearly PV potential (kWh/kW)

Regina (Saskatchewan)

1361

Calgary (Alberta)

1292

Winnipeg (Manitoba)

1277

Edmonton (Alberta)

1245

Ottawa (Ontario)

1198

Montréal (Québec)

1185

Toronto (Ontario)

1161

Fredericton (New Brunswick)

1145

Québec (Québec)

1134

Charlottetown (Prince Edward Island)

1095

Yellowknife (Northwest Territories)

1094

Victoria (British Columbia)

1091

Halifax (Nova Scotia)

1074

Iqaluit (Nunavut)

1059

Vancouver (British Columbia)

1009

Whitehorse (Yukon)

960

St. John’s (Newfoundland/Labrador)

933

City

Yearly PV potential (kWh/kW)

Cairo, Egypt

1635

Capetown, South Africa

1538

New Delhi, India

1523

Los Angeles, U.S.A

1485

Mexico City, Mexico

1425

Regina, Saskatchewan

1361

Sydney, Australia

1343

Rome, Italy

1283

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

1253

Ottawa, Canada

1198

Beijing, China

1148

Washington, D.C., U.S.A.

1133

Paris, France

938

St. John’s, Newfoundland/Labrador

933

Tokyo, Japan

885

Berlin, Germany

848

Moscow, Russia

803

London, England

728

 

PROGRAM RULES

Am I allowed to participate in both The Residential and Commercial Solar Program and the Medicine Hat “Hat Smart” Program?

Applicants may participate in both programs. Please reference section 7.4 of the program Terms and Conditions.

 

Why can’t I install the system myself?

  • Self-installed solar photovoltaic systems will not be eligible for this program.
  • Self-installations do not foster the creation of employment in the province, which is one of the prime objectives of Energy Efficiency Alberta programs.
  • A qualified installer-led program is the best way to ensure the work completed meets safety regulations, code expectations and industry best practices.

EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITIES IN SOLAR

Are there employment opportunities in the renewable energy or solar industries?

  • Energy efficiency programs are among the lowest cost ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and will create roughly 50 jobs for every $1 million invested.
  • Energy efficiency programs will create jobs in construction and energy services and grow future-ready industries such as solar generation.
  • Part of the mandate for Energy Efficiency Alberta is to promote the energy efficiency and community energy services industry in Alberta so it is anticipated there will be employment in many different areas of this emerging field.

PROGRAM RULES

Am I allowed to participate in both The Residential and Commercial Solar Program and the Medicine Hat “Hat Smart” Program?

  • Applicants may participate in both programs. Please reference section 8.4 of the program Terms and Conditions.