- The Solar Club™ is an electricity rate plan that improves cost savings for owners of solar PV in Alberta.
- It allows people with solar panels to switch between a high electricity rate ($0.30/kWh) and a low electricity rate ($0.1175/kWh) depending on seasonal variations in solar energy production.
- The high rate is used in the summer to maximize the value of electricity that gets exported to the grid. The low rate is used in the winter to keep the price of imported electricity as low as possible.
- To use the Solar Club™, you must switch to an electricity retailer that offers it. There are 3 options for Solar Club™ retailers at the bottom of this page.
Updated: April 2023
How does the Solar Club™ work?
Solar Club™ rates are for customers who have solar panels on their home or business and are generating excess energy in the summer months that goes back into the Alberta electricity system. They offer a high electricity rate that is meant to be used during months when more electricity is exported to the grid than is imported from the grid. The low electricity rate is meant to be used when more electricity is imported from the grid than is exported to the grid. Note that the price (either the low or high rate) applies to both the imports and the exports of electricity.
Customers can move between the low and high rates at any time by submitting a “Rate Change Request” online through their account on their chosen Solar Club™ retailers’ website. Typically, customers will move from the low rate to the high rate in the spring when they begin generating more electricity and back again to the low rate in the fall when they begin generating less.
Solar Club™ customers will have 50% of their imported energy offset or “greened” for free and they can also earn 2% cash back annually for all of their imported energy. This credit is paid directly in January or February for the previous year. To become a member of the Solar Club™, you need only make a donation to a local food bank or charity of your choice.
Solar Club™ members will also benefit from their Price Match feature. When the highest of the Regulated Rate Option (RRO) prices exceeds 30.0 cents/kWh, members will receive that higher price for their exports and imports for that month.
Who should use the Solar Club™?
The Solar Club™ isn’t a good idea for everyone who has solar panels. The primary benefit of the Solar Club™ is created in the summer when a home exports more energy than it imports which builds credit at the high electricity rate. For this to occur, the home must have enough solar panels to be a net exporter of electricity in the summer. Our model suggests that a home that produces more than 70-80% percent of its annual electricity needs from solar, will produce enough in the summer to be a net exporter and benefit from the Solar Club™.
A home that produces less than 70-80% of its annual electricity needs from solar will not produce enough electricity in the summer to be a net exporter. This means that there is no benefit to switching to the high export electricity rate and no summer credit is created. For these homes, it is best to remain on the low rate or other fixed rate all year round.
Please ask a Glean solar expert if the Solar Club™ is right for you.
When should I switch between the low and high rates?
It is beneficial to use the high electricity rate to maximize the value of the electricity you sell to the grid in the summer. In the winter, you are a net importer of electricity so you drop down to the low electricity rate to minimize the cost of the electricity you are buying from the grid. The difference between the two situations can significantly improve the financials of an investment in solar panels.
In general, whenever a home is a net exporter of electricity in any one month, it is beneficial to be on the high rate for that month. When a home is a net importer of electricity from the grid, it is best to be on a low rate for that month.
For example, a home that produces around 100% percent of its annual electricity needs from solar (net-zero electrically) will typically benefit most from switching to the high rate in March/April and switching to the low rate in October/November. Solar Club™ members can switch between these two rates at any time with just 10 days’ notice, penalty-free to accommodate seasonal solar electricity fluctuations. Ask a Glean solar expert if you have questions about when to switch. Licensed Solar Club™ retailers send out reminder emails in April and October to remind members to switch their rates if they have not already done so.
Why should I use the Solar Club™?
As an example, say you install solar panels that cover 100% of your annual electricity use (i.e. your home uses 8,000 kWh/year and your solar panels produce 8,000 kWh/year). Between April and October (summer), you are a net exporter of 2,000 kWh. Between November and March (winter), you are a net importer of 2,000 kWh.
- If you remain on a fixed rate for electricity, you will earn the grid price for electricity exported in the summer and pay the grid price for electricity imported from the grid in the winter.
- Switching to the Solar Club™ allows you to earn 30 cents/kWh for electricity exported in the summer! You build up a credit in the summer to be used in the winter when you are a net importer of electricity. However, you switch to the low (winter) rate and use up that credit at a rate of only 12.5 cents/kWh. The difference between the two rates improves the payback of an investment in solar panels significantly.
How is the Solar Club™ funded?
Funding for the high rate for the Solar Club™ is obtained from the Alberta Electric System Operator (AESO) as they manage the supply of electricity in the province. The relevant clause in the Microgeneration Regulation is below:
The Solar Club™ was designed to encourage investment in solar in Alberta. By paying solar owners a reasonable price for the surplus green electricity they produce, the Solar Club™ makes Alberta’s electricity grid a little bit greener.
Will the Solar Club™ last forever?
The Alberta Government may change the rules around Microgeneration at any time and we do not have any control over those types of changes. On the other hand, we are not aware of any pending changes to the regulations currently.
How do I sign up for the Solar Club™?
All you need to do is decide which licensed Solar Club™ retailer you want to use and then make a donation to a local food bank or charity of your choosing. Glean’s mission is to make solar easier by showing people all their options. So, check out the retailers below and let the Solar Club™ savings roll in!
The following energy retailers offer the Solar Club™. To sign up for one of them, please follow the links below:
*Note that Glean does receive a small referral fee if you use the links below to signup. Thanks in advance!
Get Energy is Alberta’s Local Energy Marketer, and we are proudly based in the Municipality of Wood Buffalo and service the entire province. To date, we have helped many customers like you save between 5% and 30% of their monthly utility charges. These are costs that are unavoidable and we work hard to ensure that you are never paying more than you need to.
UTILITYnet.ca offers competitive prices for electricity, natural gas and green energy to customers across Alberta. We pride ourselves on providing affordable solutions for your utility needs, accuracy in billing and top-level customer care.
Park Power is an Alberta utilities company based in Sherwood Park. We provide electricity, natural gas, and internet to homes, businesses, and farms throughout Alberta. We’re not your traditional corporate utilities provider—we’re a 100% privately owned and operated small business that believes in supporting the local economy.
What is Glean?
Glean is a broker of solar quotes that was built by Canadians to make solar easier for Canadians.
Here’s how it works:
- Provide us with some basic information about your property here.
- We will send you a no-obligation custom solar panel layout and price estimate based on current industry trends and provide assistance with grant and loan programs.
- If that rough estimate aligns with your plans and expectations, we will begin the work to get you 3 solar quotes from our network of local & verified solar installers.
- Once we get the quotes, we will send you a detailed quote summary (including an apples-to-apples financial analysis) comparing the most important aspects of each quote and answer any questions you have over a phone or video call.
- Once you choose which installer is best for you, we will make the connection and the work begins!
With Glean, there’s no back-and-forth with multiple installers. You get our unbiased opinion to help you make the best decision for you and your family!
If you have questions about Glean or the Solar Club™ reach out via the contact form below or give us a ring at 587-827-2023.