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Officials look at future of renewable energy sector in Alberta

Officials look at future of renewable energy sector in Alberta
Canada
Industry professionals came together on Wednesday in Fort Macleod to discuss the future of alternative energy in southern Alberta. The gathering comes at an uncertain time where a change in government could mean a change in the province s plans for the industry. Demi Knight has more.

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With the recent change in government, Alberta could be facing a big shift in renewable energy plans. However, officials at the Southern Alberta Energy Forum in Fort MacLeod, Alta., said Wednesday no matter who the premier is, the renewable sector is undeniable.

“We don’t have to preach about the renewable energy assets that are here anymore because people know,” Peter Casurella, executive director of Southgrow Regional Initiative, said.

“And we are internationally known as a destination for renewable energy.”

Electric vehicle infrastructure and micro-generation were just two topics discussed at the forum, as well as recent technological advances, which Carusella says have progressed significantly in the past few years.

“The technology has really come of age, and got to a price point where communities can really start to do this to lower their own costs to make their communities more sustainable.”

“There’s even possibilities in the future to start making revenue off of that for communities,” Carusella said.

Industry professionals at Wednesday’s forum added Alberta is already leading the way in solar and wind energy due to the areas natural resources.

But Carusella said there’s also prospects of more projects that don’t require government funding.

“Just in the last couple of years we’ve seen it reach the point where it starts to make real economic sense without subsidies.

“There are large-scale utility projects going into southern Alberta right now that have zero subsidies to them.”

With all this in mind, one owner of a local solar company is still fielding concerns surrounding the UCP’s plans for renewable energy.

“There is some uncertainty for sure with the transition in government,” Bryce Allred, co-owner of Lethbridge company Solar Optix, said. “We’re waiting with bated breaths to see what steps they’ll be taking in the next few months.”

In a stark comparison to the NDP’s alternative energy plans, Jason Kenney has placed a strong focus on pipelines as a main source of energy, which he highlighted during a campaign stop in Lethbridge in March prior to the provincial election.

“The single biggest thing Alberta could do to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions is to get our Alberta natural gas to global markets,” Kenney said at that time.

Despite prospects of a oil and gas-focused government, energy officials said they remain optimistic that the UCP will continue to see the value of the renewable energy industry.

“I don’t look at this new government as anti-renewable energy at all,” Casurella said.

“We have good relationships with our MLAs in Edmonton and they support the work we’re doing down here because they know it drives economic growth for all Albertans.”
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