Community Generating Units
In this decision, the AUC approved the application from Brooks Solar II GP Inc. (“Brooks Solar”) to qualify the Brooks Solar II Power Plant (the “Power Plant”), located in the County of Newell, as two community generating units.
The AUC approved the application to construct and operate the Power Plant in Decision 26661-D02-2021. In this decision, the AUC considered Brooks Solar’s request to qualify the Power Plant as two community generating units pursuant to the Small Scale Generation Regulation.
The distribution facility owner, FortisAlberta Inc. (“FortisAB”), confirmed that it had qualified the Power Plant as two small-scale generating units under the Small Scale Generation Regulation. FortisAB stated that it would be responsible for the metering of the Power Plant should the AUC approve the community generating unit application. The metering costs total approximately $60,000, including $10,000 in installation fees per meter.
The AUC noted that Section 3 of the Small Scale Generation Regulation allows a small-scale power producer, who owns a small-scale generating unit that is the subject of a community benefits agreement, to apply to the AUC to have the small-scale generating unit qualified as a community generating unit. The AUC further noted that Section 3 requires that the application include the community benefits agreement or community benefits statement that applies to the small-scale generating unit.
Upon receipt of an application, the AUC determines whether the small-scale generating unit qualifies as a community generating unit. If it does qualify, the AUC determines the compensation the distribution owner should receive in relation to the costs to purchase the meter installed for the community generating unit, as described in either Subsection 5(2)(a) or 5(3)(a)(i) of the Small Scale Generation Regulation.
The application from Brooks Solar met the qualifying requirements and the AUC therefore designated the Power Plant as a community generating unit under the Small Scale Generation Regulation.
The Power Plant has two distinct interconnection points and therefore consists of two separate facilities within the meaning of the Small Scale Generation Regulation. Each facility has been qualified as a small-scale generating unit, has a distinct Alberta Electric System Operator asset ID, and requires its own meter.
The AUC recognized that a power plant may consist of multiple generating units and that, in some circumstances, depending on the interconnection configuration, each of these generating units may constitute its own facility as defined in the Small Scale Generation Regulation. The AUC however noted that while the Small Scale Generation Regulation permits such facilities to be qualified as separate community generating units, the AUC is also cognizant of the potential for large projects to be severed into multiple facilities, thereby increasing reimbursable meter costs, without any corresponding increase in benefits to the community. Accordingly, where a small-scale power producer requests that multiple facilities be qualified as community generating units, the AUC will exercise careful scrutiny of the nature and extent of the benefits to be conferred on the associated community group, to ensure that the qualification is in the public interest.
The AUC was satisfied that in this specific case, the Power Plant constitutes two separate facilities as defined in Subsection 1(h) of the Small Scale Generation Regulation. Although both facilities are subject to a single community benefits agreement, the benefits contemplated therein include a commitment to provide significant funding on an ongoing basis to facilitate environmental education within local schools, as well as to support existing social and economic welfare initiatives.
The AUC qualified the Power Plant as two community generating units under the Small Scale Generation Regulation.
As the distribution facility owner, FortisAB is entitled to recover the costs incurred to purchase the meters for the project (estimated to be $40,000), pursuant to Subsection 5(2)(a) of the Small Scale Generation Regulation. The AUC imposed the following condition to the qualification of the project as two community generating units under the Small Scale Generation Regulation:
Once the distribution owner has purchased the meters for the community generating units, within one month of the project’s in-service date, Brooks Solar II GP Inc. must provide the AUC with written confirmation of the actual cost to purchase the meters.
The AUC qualified the Power Plant as two community generating units.