Calgary Herald

145,000 GREEN JOBS?

Report says it’s possible


Alberta could create more than 145,000 jobs by investing more heavily in renewable energy, energy efficiency and public transit, a report by three environmen­tal organizati­ons says.

The move would boost employment when oil prices have dropped, reduce carbon emissions and help shift the economy toward green industries, according to the report released Friday by Greenpeace, the Alberta Green Economy Network and Gridworks Energy Group.

“The government can start putting people back to work without having to wait for the price of oil to go back up,” co-author David Thompson said.

The report estimates 68,400 positions are available from energy efficiency upgrades on more than 183,000 older homes and other buildings, requiring spending of $1 billion over five years.

Another 30,000 to 40,000 places would come from building LRT lines at a cost of more than $3.6 billion, along with the unpriced expansion of bike lanes, sidewalks and other sustainabl­e transporta­tion.

As well, there could be 46,780 jobs created by 2020 by almost doubling the amount of wind power to seven per cent of the electricit­y grid, boosting solar and geothermal production and improving energy efficiency and storage.

No price tag is attached to this developmen­t.

The provincial budget calls for investing $6.2 billion raised by the new carbon levy in green infrastruc­ture, renewable energy, energy efficiency and other work over five years.

Many communitie­s are already shifting toward renewable power.

The Lubicon Lake First Nation of Little Buffalo, 465 kilometres northwest of Edmonton, put in an 80-panel, 20.8-kilowatt solar electricit­y system next to its health centre last summer.

The Louis Bull First Nation at Maskwacis, 70 kilometres south of Edmonton, will start installing 340 solar panels on four public buildings next month, training residents to work in this field and cutting electricit­y bills, councillor Desmond Bull said.

The approximat­ely $300,000 cost is being covered with money from the federal government.

The project is intended to help the environmen­t as well as produce economic developmen­t, Bull said.

“There’s not really any template or model for how First Nations can move in this direction.”

City of Edmonton chief economist John Rose cautioned this week that government­s must be prudent about major investment­s in renewable energy, but Thompson said Alberta has big wind and solar resources.

“We can learn from the mistakes others have made. … We can go down the tunnel and hopefully get less scratched.”

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Desmond Bull

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