ENMAX Energy has been connecting Albertans with the power of the sun for years. Here are answers to some commonly asked questions.
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After installing solar, a bill will change primarily on four lines:
Energy Charge: This is the cost of the energy consumed from the grid. With solar, energy generated by solar modules is consumed first, so this line item should be lower than for a home without solar installed.
Micro-generation Credit: This line is added to a bill after solar is installed. It represents any energy generated by a home solar power system that is not consumed during the month. Excess solar energy from a home solar power system is “sold” to the grid at the same rate being paid for incoming electricity. The amount of money a home solar power system is credited depends on a variety of factors, including the number of solar modules installed, a home’s energy needs and the homeowner’s current electricity rate.
Distribution Charge: This charge has a fixed component which will not change with solar as it is charged per day, and a variable component, which is charged based on consumption from the grid. Because there is a reasonable expectation that grid consumption is lower with solar, this charge should also be lower compared to a home without a solar power system if a system performs as expected.
Transmission Charge: Much like the distribution charge, this charge may have a fixed and variable component. In most areas of Alberta, it is only variable based on consumption from the grid so will most likely be lower compared to a home without a solar power system if the system performs as expected.
The Balancing Pool Allocation is also positively impacted by lower usage but has an overall negligible impact on the bill as the amount is typically quite low.
The Rate Riders, Local Access Fee and Administration Charge are not impacted by micro-generation.
See a sample electricity bill for a home with solar
If your system generates more electricity than you use, the extra power will be sent to the grid and your account will be credited at your current electricity rate.
Generally, solar power systems in Alberta remain connected to the grid through a bidirectional meter. This way, you can send any excess energy produced to the grid, while also ensuring you have grid-supplied electricity during the night, or when sunlight is limited.
The amount of energy generated by your solar power system depends on a variety of factors, including the number of solar modules you install, the hours of usable sunlight you receive and your energy needs. Your home solar power system is sized based on your energy consumption. You cannot have a home solar power system with the capacity to generate more electricity than is used by your household.
In Alberta, the Micro-generation Regulation stipulates that customers can generate enough power to meet some or all of their annual electricity consumption, but not more. When a customer generates more power than they need at any given moment, they’ll receive a credit on their bill from their retailer—at their electricity rate—for every kWh sent back to the grid.
It typically takes 6 to 12 weeks from customer approval to proceed with the quoted project.
Solar power system installation includes:
Different communities may have guidelines or specific permits related to solar installations.
Qualified solar installers will typically manage the permitting process for solar installation in your area.
Qualified solar installers will typically offer a warranty on labour and installation for new equipment. Manufacturer warranties are included with the modules and other equipment.
Solar modules typically require little to no maintenance. All installations come with a digital monitoring application to watch for system status and energy production levels over time.
Properly installed, solar modules typically last 30 to 40 years when checked periodically.
Solar modules are extremely durable and hail damage is uncommon. Most modules are installed in a way that reduces the likelihood of a direct perpendicular hit from hail.
A light snow will quickly melt off the modules as they generate a small amount of heat. The angle of the modules also helps to clear snow due to gravity. In case of a large snowfall, modules may be obstructed for a period, but this usually occurs during the months with the least direct sunlight, so impact to the overall power generation of the modules is generally low.
Your roof should be in good condition prior to installing a solar power system. Should your roof need repair, a qualified solar installer can provide a quote to remove the modules prior to the roof maintenance and reinstall them afterward.
Power is measured in watts. A kilowatt (kW) is 1,000 watts of power. A megawatt (MW) is 1 million watts of power. Watts measure the rate of power at a moment in time.
Solar power systems are sold as a measure of their kilowatts, for example, a 5-kW system. This means that all the solar modules or panels together add up to 5 kW. This could look like a system of 20 solar modules, each with 250 watts of power. 250 W x 20 modules = 5,000 W or 5 kW.
Kilowatt-hours (kWh) measure the amount of energy used over a specific time period, in kilowatts per hour. Electricity used for powering home electronics and small or large appliances, whether for just a few seconds or for most of the day, is measured in kWh.
The size of the solar energy system you need depends on how many kWh of electricity your home uses and by how much you want to offset your usage from the grid. The greater your energy requirements, the bigger the solar power system needed to offset this usage.
Solar modules can be installed on new-build homes. Among other considerations, sizing of a solar array is typically estimated based on the size of the home, number of residents, the need for electrical vehicle charging and the projected electrical consumption of larger appliances such as air conditioning, hot tub, etc. Discussions with a developer/builder about modifying construction schedules to add solar modules to a new-build home are the responsibility of the homeowner.
The exact number of modules required depends on your annual energy use, the amount of sunlight your home receives and the size or power of each solar module (measured in watts), among other considerations. The greater your annual energy requirements, the larger the solar power system needed to offset this usage.
Before you get started with solar for your home, here are some important factors to consider:
Micro-generation refers to small-scale energy generation by households, small businesses and communities, such as solar modules installed on a home’s roof to produce power.
By using a renewable source of electricity like solar for even a portion of what you consume, you’re decreasing the amount of power that needs to come from non-renewable sources of generation.
If you’re ready to take the first step towards switching your home to solar, contact us to learn more.
If you find you’re not a candidate for solar but want to support renewable energy, you can still offset your energy usage by adding Green to your ENMAX Energy plan. Learn more
Current grants and incentives available for solarⱡ
Federal Canada Greener Homes GrantOffers up to $5,000 rebate to recipients ($1000/kilowatt (kW) capacity installed up to 5 kW).Learn more
City of EdmontonOffers $400 per kW installed for existing homes or up to $300 per kW installed for new builds. Total grant per home is up to 40 per cent of expenses or up to a maximum of $4000, whichever is lesser.Learn more
Town of BanffOffers $750 per kW installed up to 20kW.Learn more
Clean Energy Improvement ProgramAlberta’s Clean Energy Improvement Program (CEIP) is a municipality-led program, administered by the Alberta Municipal Services Corporation (AMSC). It’s designed to help support energy efficiency improvements.
The City of Calgary announced its intention to offer CEIP support for projects including solar installations starting in late 2022.
For information on CEIP and where it’s offered in Alberta
visit their website.
If your goal is to install enough panels to match your annual energy consumption, the average cost for a home that typically consumes between 600 to 800 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity per month is $12,000 to $20,000. This includes the cost of the equipment, installation, permitting and commission/electrification and does not account for any savings from grants or incentives.
The condition of your roof, any required electrical upgrades, or other project-specific considerations may affect the cost.
Applying for solar grants can help offset these costs.
Installing a smaller solar power system can help partially offset your energy consumption from the grid. This may be a better fit for your budget; and, as time passes, you can always add solar modules to your system.
There are a lot of things to consider when trying to determine whether and at what point the upfront costs of your home solar power system may be offset. Generally, a return on your investment takes at least 10 to 15 years if the system performs as expected. Incentive programs, grants and purchase terms such as financing affect this timeframe.
A return on investment may not be possible for all consumers. Performance of a solar system and the associated financial considerations are dependent on a variety of factors including but not limited to sunlight and weather, the presence of obstructions, governing laws, performance of the equipment, the condition of the roof, prevailing utility rates, and the availability of incentives and rebate programs.
Using a solar power system to generate electricity can help you save the money you would typically pay for the electricity you consume. Depending on the size of your system, you may be able to offset all or a portion of your monthly electricity usage. Because your system is still connected to the grid, you’ll need to pay for other charges such as Transmission and Distribution, applicable taxes and similar fees.
If you create more electricity than you consume, that surplus is sold to the grid at the same rate as you pay for incoming electricity to create a credit. If your credit is higher than your monthly bill total, any savings are rolled over month-to-month.
The below resources can help if you’re ready to take the next step.
Looking for ways to help offset the cost of adding solar to your home?
Check the Alberta solar directory for a solar provider in your area that meets your needs.
General solar system, micro-generation credit and billing questions:
1-877-571-7111 (Outside Alberta)
Current ENMAX solar lease customers:
ENMAX Power micro-generation applications:
ENMAX Power meter exchanges or general metering inquiries:
Customers are free to purchase natural gas services or electricity services from a retailer of their choice. For a list of retailers, visit ucahelps.alberta.ca or call 310-4822 (toll free in Alberta).
For new services, transfers or renewals, please call 310-2010 or click here to self serve online.