Dec 24, 2014

Costs of Electricity in Alberta

Some days I make less than 1 kWh, if I removed the snow I would get 4 kWh from only 7ish hours of sun. This year I have now made 6500 kWh and I have banked 1500 kWh. In Alberta, all micro generation sites are allowed to send electricity into the grid and get that energy out from the grid at a later time. You still have to pay for the Transmission and Distribution Charge, but at lest you don't have to pay for the Production Charge. That is why people with solar still want to buy a hot water tank that can use electricity only when the sun is sunning.
ProductionChargeTransmission ChargeDistribution ChargeFranchise FreeTotal Invoice
My invoice tells me I pay 29 cents per kWh. I am amazed that the Local Distribution Charge is 2.5 times more than the cost production of the electricity. If I used a gas generator to generate electricity I figure it would cost me 37 cents per kWh now that gas is only 87 cents / liter. (Wiki says 87 octane gas has 32 MJ or 8.88 kWh per liter. Most gas generators are 35% efficiency so 1 litre of gas can make just over 3 kWh.) If  I go "fill up" at a charging station it is $0.79 per kWh. With lithium energy storage still at 4000 cycles per useful life storage still costs $387 / kWh

Dec 14, 2014

Can Alberta build a green grid?

Atco Electric released this video yesterday. I guess they don't see the problem. Paying for electricity in Alberta is quite expensive - at least that is what my neighbors tell me. If you look at the highlighted section of my bill ($83.18) you will see that the major expense is the transmission charge. 69% of my bill goes to pay ATCO.  31% is admin and energy charges. Gone are the days when I get 15 cents / kWh, now I receive and pay 6.99 cents per kWh. Cheap if I didn't have to pay for transmission. Paying 25 cents / kWh to Bow Valley instead of 34 cents / kWh to Atco feels a lot easier.

 In 2014 I produced 6500 kWh via my 6 kW solar panels, but 5500 kWh was used by our home so I have only banked 1 MWh or $70. This year I hope to turn on my hot water tank only when the sun shines so I will bank even less.

It is strange, where I live, we have these tax funded programs like rural electrification and a few years later no one uses that infrastructure. There are a lot of dead phone wire in the ground and I am the only house using natural gas. Most people use a propane tank even though the gas line runs along the road. I think more people will disconnect from the electrical grid if transmission costs stay at 69% of the total energy costs. Both my neighbors have their total amp capacity reduced to 75 amps even though they have 100 amp breaker in their house. In Alberta we get charged less if we never go over 75 amps (18 kW).

Even Internet Access has been publicly funded, but most of the companies that receive those monies are not providing Internet for the residents any more.

In BC I normally pay only 8 cents / kWh, so solar is not that good of an investment compared to Alberta where if I use my generated electricity I am saving about 30 cents / kWh. Pretty soon we will be back to storing our energy like the off-grid people do. Solar city sells these units in California. Good thing we don't live in the city where we would be charged a franchise fee.

With gas down to 84.5 / liter in GP, Alberta and a liter of gas has 8.7 kWh of energy and most gas generators are 25% efficiency, it would cost you 42 cents to make 1 kwh of electricity. Now you know why most of my neighbors don't connect to the grid unless they can connect for free.
Does anyone want to help me win $2 million?