Distribution System Inquiry

Distribution System Inquiry

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Overview 

The AUC has released the final report of its Distribution System Inq​uiry (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 metering.

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?

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Background

In 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 community levels.

Concurrently, 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 energy storage.

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.​

 

Proceeding 24116              Register

Application status: completed​

 Decision 24116-D01-2021 issued February 19, 2021

 

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