The AUC has released the final report of its Distribution
System Inquiry (Proceeding 24116) which examined the need to modernize
Alberta’s distribution system to realize benefits from advancing technologies.
A summary of the report, located on our website under
Decision 24116-D01-2021, can be found in a letter to stakeholders from AUC
Chair Carolyn Dahl Rees.
The report focuses on the distribution side of our
electricity system, on distributed energy resources, or DERs for short. Simply
put, these are considered to be any technology that is connected to the
distribution grid and affects the supply of and/or demand for electricity.
Evolving technologies have raised many questions about
traditional planning approaches, rate structures, cost-recovery mechanisms,
incentives and the evaluation of prudent utility costs. The main driver for the
inquiry was the rapid advancement of technologies such as battery storage,
rooftop solar, electric vehicles, combined heat and power systems, smart
Throughout the inquiry, the AUC received extensive
stakeholder input into challenges associated with modernizing our system. How
do we all, as a sector, be collaborative, flexible and adaptive going forward,
given that we face some uncertainty about how much and how quickly digital
technologies will change? What kind of changes may be needed to rate structures
to encourage Albertans to use new resources in an efficient, least cost way? With
new ways of providing services to consumers, how will these be delivered?
recent years, Alberta’s electricity distribution sector has been affected by rapid
technological improvements and changing consumer behaviour. Government efforts
to promote clean, renewable electricity generation linked to Alberta’s Climate
Leadership Plan have contributed to increased renewable generation such as wind
and solar, and the rise of distributed generation at the residential and
the electricity distribution network has grown in complexity as consumers
increasingly both consume energy from the grid and produce power to be put into
the grid. In addition, utilities and the communities they serve are
increasingly embracing energy efficiency, demand response, renewable energy and
Among consumers, trends include the
growing popularity of electric vehicles with more manufacturers moving away
from internal combustion engines, and the design and construction of new homes
that are often highly energy efficient, with some using zero net energy. Some
consumers, large and small, are considering battery storage, bringing the
prospect of independence from the grid closer to reality.