Frequently Asked Questions

Flipping the Switch: FAQs on Choosing Your Solar Energy Provider

How do I become a Solar Club Member?2024-03-27T12:30:43-06:00

Easy! Simply apply for a Solar Club rate through one of our Community Retailers.

Not ready yet? Simply apply for one of our variable or fixed rates and then switch to a Solar Club rate once your system has been activated.

What is the High (HI) rate for? What is the Low (LO) rate for?2024-04-10T13:23:07-06:00

The HI Export Rate is designed for micro-generators who are generating more energy than they are using. This is typically used during the summer months (March to October).

The LO Export Rate is designed for micro-generators who are using more energy than they are generating. This is typically used during the winter months (November to February).

When should I switch between rates, and how do I switch rates?2024-04-10T13:23:29-06:00

Switching rates usually depends on your generation/usage patterns, but most micro-generators switch from LO to HI in March and from HI to LO in October. We send out reminder emails in March and October as well. Contact our Customer Care team if you need help figuring out when to switch.

You can choose an effective date that is as far back as your last meter read date.

Can I really choose a switch date that has occurred in the past?2024-04-10T13:22:41-06:00

Yes, you can! You can switch rates as far back as your last billing cycle, so be sure to take advantage of this time-travelling superpower and use it to maximize the days when your solar panels were capturing the most sunshine!

How often can I switch?2024-03-27T12:35:39-06:00

You can switch once per billing cycle, penalty-free, to accommodate seasonal electricity generation fluctuations.

How does the cash back program work?2024-04-30T12:17:33-06:00

As a Solar Club Member, you will receive cash back on all energy imported from the grid on an annual basis. We calculate your cash back amount per calendar year, and issue payments by direct deposit in February of the following year.

What is the Hummingbird Virtual Solar Community?2024-03-27T12:37:18-06:00

All microgenerators enrolled with us, regardless of membership status, are part of our Hummingbird Virtual Solar Community (VSC), one of the largest distributed small micro-generation solar farms in Alberta. As a distributed virtual solar farm, the Hummingbird VSC leverages Alberta’s abundant solar resources and the many homeowners willing to invest in solar PV technology. The Hummingbird VSC showcases the potential of leveraging abundant solar resources and community-driven initiatives and underscores the importance of innovative solutions like rooftop solar installations. As Alberta navigates the evolving landscape of renewable energy, the Hummingbird VSC stands as a testament to the power of collaboration, innovation, and localized efforts to shape a more sustainable energy future.

What are RECs and why are they part of the program?2024-03-27T12:37:57-06:00

A Renewable Energy Certificate (REC) is an environmental attribute representing 1 megawatt-hour (MWh) of renewable energy brought onto the electrical grid. As a Solar Club Member, we calculate 10% of the electricity you import and purchase RECs on your behalf to help offset the periods when you consume more than you generate. In short, 10% of the power you pull from the grid is replaced by renewable sources for free as a perk of membership!

If you would like to offset more of your consumption, you simply need to increase the Green Percentage on your account.

What is the Price Match feature?2024-03-27T12:39:00-06:00

If the Regulated Rate Option (RRO) from ENMAX, EPCOR, Direct Energy is higher than the current Solar Club HI Export Rate for that month, you will be billed and credited at the highest RRO rate posted by ENMAX, EPCOR, or Direct Energy, rather than the HI Export Rate.

What is a micro-generator?2024-03-27T12:39:27-06:00

Under the Alberta Micro-Generation Regulation, sites that use sources of renewable energy (such as solar) are termed micro-generators. Micro-generators (microgen for short) fall into two categories: large and small. Only small microgen sites qualify for Solar Club rates, as large microgen sites must be paid and credited using pool prices (market prices).

How do I know if I qualify for the Solar Club?2024-03-27T12:42:03-06:00

In order to qualify for the Solar Club, your site must meet the following requirements:

    1. You must be a small microgen site (system capacity less than 150 kW).
    2. You must have a bidirectional cumulative meter (installed by your wires company).
    3. We ask that you make a donation to a local food bank or charitable organization of your choosing.
What are carbon offsets and how do I apply for the Carbon Offset Credit Platform?2024-05-29T09:15:10-06:00

Your solar PV system’s generation has the potential to realize an additional value stream through the production of carbon offset credits that can be sold in Alberta’s open compliance market. The owner of one carbon offset credit has the right to claim responsibility for preventing one tonne of CO2 from entering the atmosphere.

You can use our Carbon Offset Credit Platform to select an aggregator and sell your carbon offsets. To be eligible, you must be located in Alberta, be connected to the Alberta power grid, and have started generating after January 2, 2012. Some funding grants and incentives may prevent you from selling your carbon offsets. Please check with your selected Carbon Credit aggregator to confirm your eligibility.

What is a Community Partner?2024-03-27T12:58:08-06:00

Community Retailers under the UTILITYnet umbrella and who are part of the Hummingbird Virtual Solar Community are actively lending a helping hand by making donations to local charitable organizations. A portion of the proceeds from your electricity invoices is automatically donated at no extra cost to you.

Are carbon offsets different than RECs?2024-04-20T10:54:30-06:00

Carbon offsets are different from RECs, but both represent renewable energy attributes. As a Solar Club Member, you will receive specific benefits that are associated with each attribute.

One carbon offset represents the removal or prevention of one tonne of CO2 from entering the atmosphere.

  • You can sell the carbon offsets generated by your system (provided you are eligible) through one of our partner aggregators by accessing our Carbon Offset Credit Platform, which can potentially result in thousands of additional dollars earned over the life of your system!

One Renewable Energy Certificate (REC) represents one megawatt-hour (MWh) of renewable energy being added to the electrical grid.

  • As a gift, the Solar Club will purchase RECs equivalent to 10% of the energy imported from the grid by its members to help offset the periods of high consumption.
Do you have a list of solar installers?2024-03-27T12:33:15-06:00

We do! There are several solar installers who work with the Solar Club. Please see our list of solar installers by clicking here.

Are there any government grants or incentives to help with micro-generation?2024-03-12T11:28:45-06:00

There are several financial incentives that you might be able to access depending on your location. For a full list, please click here to see our list of grants and incentives.

Can I leave my generation credits on file?2024-05-08T11:50:36-06:00

Absolutely, the choice is yours! You will be refunded your excess microgen credit by default when the value stays above $200 for two consecutive months. You can also opt to leave the credits on your account and draw against them in the winter months.

If ‘Credit Balance Transfer’ is enabled, your credit will automatically be used to cover your other account(s), such as Electricity or Natural Gas, when your invoice is due. If your microgen account still holds a credit balance over $200 for two consecutive months, you will be refunded your excess credit. If you do not wish to be refunded your excess credit, you can contact customer care and opt to leave the credits on your account.

How Does Credit Balance Transfer Work?2024-05-08T11:54:27-06:00

This feature allows you to use your Microgen credit to automatically pay off balances on your other accounts. Once enabled, any credit remaining on your account after current charges have been paid will automatically be used to pay off any outstanding balances on your other Natural Gas or Electricity accounts (Credit Balance Transfer is currently unavailable to Internet accounts).

Microgen accounts with higher credit balances are used first to cover other accounts with outstanding balances, starting with those with the lowest balances first. Activating credit balance transfers can be done from your ‘My Account’ page within the ‘Profile Information’ section and can be deactivated at any time.

Please note that this feature is not available to Budget Billing customers.

Will I generate enough?2024-04-10T13:14:37-06:00

The Solar Club HI Rate is premised on a properly sized solar PV system. Under Alberta’s Micro-Generation Regulation, your system can be sized to meet all or a portion of the energy you consume on an annual basis. Therefore, your system can be sized based on how much you consume over a year. Your wires company may make allowances for a small amount of oversizing.

If your solar PV system is sized appropriately (i.e. you installed the maximum number of modules), then our HI Rate is right for you. If your solar PV system is undersized, you can still take advantage of our HI Rate, but you will need to keep a close eye on your generation and usage patterns.

Some micro-generators choose to remain on our LO Rate year-round so that they can take advantage of the REC and cash back benefits.

What if my micro-generation is supplied by hydro or wind?2024-03-27T12:50:56-06:00

Not a problem! As long as your site meets the requirements under Alberta’s Micro-Generation Regulation and qualifies as a small micro-generation site, you can enroll as a Member of the Solar Club.

Will switching providers save me money?2024-04-10T13:15:13-06:00

The Solar Club’s HI and LO Rates are designed to maximize the return on your investment and ensure that you are getting the most out of your solar PV system. Additional benefits like cash back payments and our Price Match feature are also designed to further improve your ROI.

The microgen readings on my bill are different than what’s shown on my monitoring/inverter software. Why is this?2024-03-27T12:57:21-06:00

The difference in values is due to a system called Net Billing, which is the system implemented throughout Alberta and is overseen by the Alberta Utilities Commission (AUC). Under net billing, at any given time, your system acts either as a net exporter (producing more power than it uses) or a net importer (using more power than it produces). Customers get charged their retail rate per kWh when they use power from the grid and are paid the same retail rate when they sell excess power back. Both consumption and generation are recorded and billed separately. What shows up on your invoice under ‘energy consumed’ is your net energy consumed, and your ‘microgen’ values represent the net energy exported.

What’s the difference between net metering and net billing?2024-04-10T13:18:37-06:00

In Alberta, under the Micro-Generation Regulation, micro-generators are billed using net billing. Under net billing, homeowners are credited or paid for excess electricity at the same rate they pay for power from the grid. This can lead to a zero or near-zero electricity bill.

Net metering is when homeowners sell excess electricity back to the grid at a rate that is often lower than the retail rate. This means while they can still save on their electricity bill, the savings may not be as significant as with net billing.

Do the same distribution and transmission fees I see on my regular electricity bill apply to my Solar Club invoice?2024-04-10T13:16:34-06:00

Your distribution and transmission costs will remain part of your invoice; these, unfortunately, don’t go away with micro-generation. However, the charges are based only on the electricity you import from the grid, not the amount you export from microgeneration. The variable portion of your distribution and transmission fees are lowered as a result of net billing.

How is the Solar Club’s HI Rate funded? Who regulates or sets this rate?2024-04-10T13:21:30-06:00

The HI Rate is not regulated and is set by the Solar Club™. Microgen regulation stipulates that the rate at which a retailer buys surplus electricity from the micro-generator and the rate at which it sells electricity to the microgen customer (delivered from the grid) must be the same rate during the billing period. There is no restriction on the actual rates themselves, as this is left up to the individual retailers to set based on market conditions. Customers can switch between the HI and LO Solar Club rates once per billing period.

When does the actual rate switch kick in? Is it dependent on the meter read date or billing cycle?2024-03-27T12:57:21-06:00

The selected rate switch date is independent of meter reads or billing cycles, and the selected date will be the date your new rate applies to both the power consumed and generated by your home. For example, if you selected ‘March 14’ as your switch date, you will be charged/credited the LO rate until March 13, and then the HI rate would apply starting March 14 onwards, until you decide to switch back. The different rates and date ranges will be visible on your bill, and you’ll be able to see the higher rate being applied on the exact date you requested.

Go to Top