October 18th, 2017

Solar technology making a difference

By Lethbridge Herald Opinon on April 19, 2017.

Shannon Phillips


Alberta’s towns, counties stretching dollars with solar

You could be forgiven for comparing Alberta municipalities’ efforts to stretch a dollar to ancient alchemists’ quest for gold. Both involve a little magic, at least metaphorically.

One tool the alchemists didn’t have was solar technology. While it won’t make gold, solar does generate electricity. And that means money.

Municipalities across the province are harnessing the power of the sun to produce safe, clean energy for their communities. It’s helping them stabilize their power bills and saving them money so they can spend on the services Albertans count on.

To support those efforts to make life better and more affordable, last year the provincial government kicked off the Alberta Municipal Solar Program. With $5 million in rebates available to municipalities that install solar panels on offices, fire halls and community centres, the program has already offset installation costs for 28 projects, saving Alberta’s towns and counties hundreds of thousands of dollars. It’s making life more affordable for Albertan families and communities.

Take the county of Mountain View, in the rolling farm country near Didsbury. They’ve installed an array of solar panels on their Agricultural Services Centre that will shave almost $1,000 from their annual electricity bill. Using the sun is nothing new for Alberta’s farming communities, says Mountain View Reeve Bruce Beattie.

“We use that resource to produce our safe, clean food products,” he says. “It is a logical step to use that same source to produce safe, clean energy. In a carbon-constrained future, those economies that have invested in renewable energy will reap the benefits.”

In keeping with Alberta’s role as an energy-producing jurisdiction, solar is part of our province’s low-carbon future. It’s a future that involves a more diversified economy and good mortgage-paying jobs for Albertans. Premier Rachel Notley will keep working to make your life better, creating jobs and protecting the things you count on. The Wildrose and Conservatives don’t support action to diversify our economy and would roll back programs like the municipal solar rebates.

Projects funded by the Municipal Solar Program over the past year will support 60 jobs and save municipalities a combined $391,600 on power bills annually. Those projects are also making our air cleaner – to the tune of taking the equivalent of almost 14,000 cars off the road for one year!

In addition to Mountain View County, communities across the province have made investments in solar power helped by these rebates. Valleyview, Black Diamond and Canmore are among those with connected solar panels, saving them money already, while Cardston, Edson and Banff have projects under construction. You can find more details about all these projects on the MCCAC’s Project Showcase webpage.

This is just the beginning of the solar surge in Alberta, and there is much to be learned from inspiring communities that recognize that Alberta’s solar resources are among the best in Canada and that we can, and should, harness them.

We are proud of these results and look forward to many more successes as we continue to collaborate with communities across the province to make life better for Albertans. Your government is protecting and improving the things that make a difference in your life.

4 Responses to “Solar technology making a difference”

  1. already extinct says:

    I’m not sure anyone else picked up on the fact that Minister Philips offers not one word on how Premier Rachel Notely and her NDP government is making energy more affordable for individual homeowners, just she “……will keep working to make your life better” Really!

    The municipality quoted – The county of Mountain View where $1000.00 has been shaved from their “annual electricity bill” may not be playing on the same field as an individual homeowner, as is implied.

    If I as an individual homeowner invested the money – filled my yard with and/or installed on the roof top of the house, enough solar panels to power my operation, would that investment lower or eliminate on my utility bill the cost of the administration charge ($6.77) the transaction fee ($9.64) the distribution charge ($35.43) the transmission charge (34.03) the balancing pool allocation($1.06) or the local access fee paid to Lethbridge ($12.50) added together on my latest bill totals $99.43, nearly four times (3.925) the cost of the energy used – $25.33? I doubt it very much!

    As importantly, are those “Municipal Solar” programs (which are said to have saved municipalities $391,600 in utility bills) subject to all the add-ons, (demonstrated above) I pay monthly as an residential user?

    Do municipalities pay an access fee to themselves like I do (local access fee paid to Lethbridge $12.50 ) which is near exactly half of the energy used? This fee, forces me to pay an access fee to the utility company to access municipal land I and every other taxpayers of the jurisdiction owns – how nutty is that! This is theft plain and simple, and has nothing to do with energy at all.

    Do municipalities pay a distribution charge exceeding significantly the energy they consumed, like I do? And on and on.

    Taxpayers, paying for all this with after tax money (after provincial and federal tax has been extracted) are being ripped and gouged big time, in multiple ways, not only by this government by the last one – and nothing has changed except the messenger who is arguably a slicker compliant script reader.

    When are Albertans going to unmask the charade, tell their representative’s they are sick and tired of the smoke, mirrors and thievery and ask for accountability, honesty & fairness.

    I cannot see how in all honesty my elected official could possibly tell me that the government is working to make my life better, when the fees, the utility fees in this instance, I have no control over, exceed the cost of the energy by nearly 4 to one!

    Nothing about the current cost of energy, or the future cost of it makes, or will make my life better.
    For those flipping burgers or on a fixed income, the future looks even duller.

    Sorry Minister Phillips until you are able to announce your government’s support for a department of renewable energy at the University of Lethbridge, next door to the sunniest place in the country, I’m not buying your obfuscation.

    Presently as demonstrated above you’ve done nothing to lower energy costs to homeowners, despite the hundreds of millions in investment. If you can show otherwise. lets hear from you.

    Your captive audience awaits an honest (?) answer.

  2. Jagtech says:

    First off, Ms Phillips, do your research. Solar panel manufacturing has an absolutely immense carbon footprint. You are touting the benefits of solar panels – I cannot disagree that solar energy is good, but keep in mind that we don’t manufacture solar panels in Canada; they all come from China. Why won’t our government subsidize or attract industry to Alberta that will manufacture our own panels? Must we so strongly support China’s economy at the cost of our own?
    Further, solar power doesn’t come cheap to the homeowner (even with your big carbon tax rebates and incentives). It is strictly for the higher-income earner. And even then, how smart is it to invest $25000+ in a solar system that has a life span of only about 25 years?
    Do the math…do the research… it really doesn’t work for the average Albertan.

  3. wheatking5 says:

    It would be nice (perhaps more like a miracle) to see Shannon reply to the comment feedback instead of constantly spewing more propaganda in her submissions to the Herald.

    • snowman says:

      What the environment minister and her Pembina buddies are not telling you the big surprise when she puts in legislation for feed in tariffs the name for subsidizing this renewable energy she advocates. The Companies that are supposedly bidding in on wind energy . there are US States that have pulled back subsidies on wind and solar power. It seems the minister does not have a brain of her own but must follow the Ontario energy debacle with direction from Pembina and Greenpeace who were consultants to the Ontario Green Energy Act. Before the NDP are finished we will pay dearly. Do you enjoy sunny ways gst grab of NDP carbon tax.

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