In Alberta's deregulated energy market, figuring out how much solar can save you in Edmonton is hard to nail down exactly, unless you know what to look for.
To figure this out, we need to understand what the different parts of your power bill mean and how you get compensated for the power you produce.
Keep in mind that this discussion will be based on grid-tied systems with no batteries.
Breaking it down
The bill from your energy retailer might look different, but the names of the charges should be the same. Let's take a closer look at the different charges.
The energy charge
The energy charge is what the power company gets paid to make electricity at the power plant.
You can save up to 100% of this cost with solar installed on your property, without using batteries because of how net-metering works, and here's how:
If your solar power system is designed properly for net metering, you will be producing more power than your property is using up during the day in the sunnier times of the year. This means that you will be selling the electricity back onto the grid and building up a net metering credit.
At night and in the winter you may be using grid power, but instead of being charged, you will redeem those net-metering credits you built up when the sun was shining.
With a properly designed solar power system, your extra net-metering credits can match up with the amount of power you need from the grid at night and in the winter.
This means that your energy charge can average out to $0 at the end of the year.
This is what the power company charges you to get the electricity from the electrical substation to your property.
During the sunnier times of the year, your solar panels will produce enough power during the day that you won't be bringing power in from the grid, but when you use grid power at night and in the winter months, you will still be charged for distribution.
The exact amount of distribution charges you can save with solar will depend on how much power you use during the winter/night, and how much the utility charges for distribution. Let's take a look at what customers in Edmonton get charged for distribution:
Edmonton is the distribution territory of EPCOR and they maintain all of the power lines in the city. To find out what they charge for distribution, we need to look at their rate charts, as seen below.
The chart below shows how much EPCOR charged residential homes for distribution as of December 2016.
This chart tells us that there is a per-day charge of $0.56446 and a usage based charge of $0.00823 per kWh for residential homes in Edmonton. The per-day charge will always be the same no matter how much power you use.
For the power bill pictured above, that customer's home with solar would be charged about $17 a month for the per-day charges and could save a portion of the usage charges, equal to about 0.4 cents per kWh.
Over the course of the year, you can expect to save about 50% of your usage based distribution charges by using a net metered solar power system.
Transmission charges are what the power company charges you to move electricity from power plants to cities across the large, high-voltage power lines that span the province.
In Edmonton, EPCOR manages the billing for customers using the transmission network. The transmission billing rate for residential customers in Edmonton as of December 2016 is $0.02996 per kWh used, as seen in the picture below
Because transmission charges in Edmonton are purely usage based, you will be able to save a significant portion of your monthly transmission charges during the sunnier months with a net metered solar power system. This is especially true if you use very little power after the sun goes down.
For the bill featured in this article, the customer could expect to save about 1.5 cents per kWh in transmission charges by using a solar power system designed for net metering.
In the winter months, when there are fewer sunlight hours, you will notice an increase in your monthly transmission charges. Over the course of the year you can usually expect to save around 50% of your transmission expenses when using a net metered solar power system.
Adding it up
In Edmonton, it is possible to save a significant amount of money by using a net metered solar power system without batteries. For the month featured on the bill in this article, the total savings from using a solar power system designed for net metering would be about 6 cents per kWh.
While most of your savings will come from avoiding energy charges, you can save on distribution and transmission charges by avoiding the use of grid power when the sun isn't shining as much. Other charges, like administration and local access fees, will still show up on your bill, no matter how little power you use.
If you are looking for the most recent billing rate information for Edmonton, you can always get in touch with EPCOR through their website.
What do we do to help?
To make your life easier, all of the savings estimates we provide in our free solar power quotes take your specific case into account and you won't have to worry about figuring out all of these details.
If this article has sparked your interest, we would gladly help you figure out how much money our solar power systems can save you in Edmonton, or anywhere else in our Western Canada service area.
Head to our Contact page or call our hotline at 1-877-910-4164 to get started with your own no-pressure estimate.