Still look­ing for an­swers for al­ter­na­tive en­ergy

The Drumheller Mail - - CLASSIFIEDS - Pa­trick Ko­lafa The Drumheller Mail

While de­tails of the Al­berta Cli­mate change pro­gram keep trick­ling out, many of those in­ter­ested in al­ter­na­tive en­ergy are still look­ing for some an­swers.

Shortly be­fore Christmas, the Al­berta gov­ern­ment an­nounced more flex­i­bil­ity on how Al­ber­tans can gen­er­ate power. One change to the reg­u­la­tions is that it will in­crease mi­cro­gen­er­a­tion ca­pac­ity from one megawatt to five megawatts and al­low­ing a mi­cro­gen­er­a­tion sys­tem to serve ad­ja­cent sites.

Some are see­ing step for­ward.

“Hav­ing spent years giv­ing work­shops across Al­berta, there is a huge ap­petite from Al­berta farms to home­own­ers to uni­ver­si­ties to take ad­van­tage of so­lar’s rapidly fall­ing costs. The changes an­nounced to­day are a use­ful step to­wards un­lock­ing more of our prov­ince’s vast so­lar po­ten­tial,” said Rob Harlan, Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor, So­lar En­ergy So­ci­ety of Al­berta.

Ross Rawlusyk of Star­land County, which has been on the fore­front of al­ter­na­tive en­ergy, says they are in limbo.

“We have been wait­ing for some time for some clar­ity on what new al­ter­na­tive en­ergy reg­u­la­tions are go­ing to be, and we still don’t have any­thing,” he said.

He says there are a cou­ple wind projects in the area, which there are hopes they are mov­ing for­ward. The projects have the ap­proval of this as a the Al­berta Elec­tric Sys­tem op­er­a­tor (AEOS), which means they are very close to be­ing de­vel­oped.

“If you were start­ing some­thing from scratch and you need to go through the AESO ap­proval process, it is prob­a­bly a year,” he said.

He ex­plains in Al­berta, many de­vel­op­ers are wait­ing for some clar­ity on how al­ter­na­tive en­ergy de­vel­op­ers will be re­im­bursed for the power pro­duced. Ini­tially, there was a plan to ini­ti­ate a bid sys­tem for al­ter­na­tive en­ergy pro­po­nents to sub­mit bids to the Prov­ince for the sup­ply of green en­ergy.

“That dead­line was ex­tended, and re­cently ex­tended again. So the big is­sue for Al­berta com­pa­nies is that so­lar de­vel­op­ment and large scale wind de­vel­op­ments are wait­ing for the bid op­por­tu­nity,” he said.

While there are tremen­dous wor­ries about switch­ing from coal power, he says there could be some op­por­tu­ni­ties. One of his wor­ries is they may lose lo­cal com­pa­nies who are in­ter­ested be­cause of the de­lays.

“Of course, peo­ple who want to de­velop more so­lar projects, are also wait­ing for some clar­ity, be­cause the eco­nom­ics of a project are in doubt now. So, Al­berta’s fledg­ling so­lar in­dus­try is prob­a­bly try­ing to hold on un­til the rules be­come clear,” he said. Mean­while, On­tario com­pa­nies are sit­ting and wait­ing and ob­serv­ing this process, and they are cer­tainly get­ting ready to par­tic­i­pate in al­ter­na­tive en­ergy projects in Al­berta.”

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