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Investing in municipal community generation

To diversify the Alberta economy, create jobs, and build municipal resilience, the Municipal Climate Change Action Centre, in partnership with Alberta Innovates, is providing $6M for two community renewable electricity generation projects through the Municipal Community Generation Challenge.

In 2019, the Challenge invited municipalities in Alberta to submit proposals for the development and implementation of community-scale renewable electricity generation projects. These projects were intended to produce community benefits including:

  • reduced greenhouse gas emissions,
  • diversification of the local economy, and
  • creation of an implementation process for other municipalities to replicate.

Over 40 municipalities expressed an interest in participating in the Challenge to support Alberta’s economic growth by developing community scale renewable energy projects. They were supported by both the Action Centre and Alberta Innovates throughout a three-stage application process, which narrowed down the number of applicants based on application strength as stages progressed.

Tip: Learn more about the differences between micro, small scale and community generation.

After successfully passing the first two stages in the application process, 10 municipalities were invited to continue to the full project proposal stage. A review panel consisting of  leaders in community generation, alternative energy technology, and senior staff from both Alberta Innovates and the Municipal Climate Change Action Centre, analyzed all applications.  

Through the Municipal Community Generation Challenge, the Action Centre is investing $6 million in two municipal renewable energy community generation projects in Alberta, including,

  1. $3.9 million for the Town of Smoky Lake: Metis Crossing Solar Project and,
  2. $2.1 million for the Municipal District of Taber: RenuWell Project.

The Action Centre is excited that municipalities are building resilient communities while energizing their local economies with renewable energy community generation projects. We hope municipalities will replicate these projects in their own communities across the province, so all Albertans can see the benefits of community generation.

Trina Innes, Director,
Municipal Climate Change Action Centre

Town of Smoky Lake: Métis Crossing Solar Project

The Métis Crossing Solar Project is a collaboration between two municipalities, the Town of Smoky Lake and Smoky Lake County; and an Indigenous community, the Métis Nation of Alberta.

This project will see the development and installation the 4.86 MW Métis Crossing Solar Project, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and generate economic and community benefits for the partnering communities. The Métis Crossing Solar Project will be the most northern grid connected solar generation project of significant size in Alberta once construction is complete.

The Project is receiving a $3.9 million investment from the Municipal Climate Change Action Centre.

Insert quote about the Métis Crossing Solar Project from project lead here.

Adam Kozakiewicz, Chief Administrative Officer,
Town of Smoky Lake

Key goals of the project

  • The 4.86 MW system size will offset the electricity used by Métis Nation of Alberta operations across Alberta.
  • A portion of Métis Crossing Solar Project profits will allow the Métis Nation of Alberta to fund social and economic development initiatives and programs to benefit Alberta Métis.
  • The project will also provide significant tax revenue to Smoky Lake County.
  • Through its open ownership structure and creation of a local community development fund, additional benefits will be provided to the municipal partners’ communities.
  • The distributed generation is sized to serve the local communities energy needs now, and in the future.

Benefits to Alberta

The successful implementation of this technology and the knowledge generated could create the following benefits for Alberta:

  • Economic opportunity
    • Several communities will see economic benefits from project investment, tax generation, job creation, and revenues.
  • Reducing costs
    • As maintaining current energy infrastructure costs represent a larger share of consumer energy costs, community generation will help avoid further infrastructure investments and cost increases.
  • Reducing volatility
    • Geographic diversity in renewable generation effectively firms the overall generation mix, reducing the need for peaking generation resources and improving the viability of storage as an alternative to peaking generation.

Knowledge Transfer Plan

For the benefit of all Albertans, the project partners will share key learnings and celebrate the solar project’s success using the Rupertsland Centre for Teaching and Learning as a hosting place for school field trips and adult programming.

The Métis Nation of Alberta plans to use the Centre and the solar PV system to engage over 10,000 students and adult learners in renewable energy, climate change and energy efficiency annually, starting once the solar system construction is complete.

Learn more about the Métis Crossing Solar Project in the Project Showcase. [ insert link to project showcase page].

The Municipal District of Taber: RenuWell Project

The RenuWell Project will demonstrate how legacy oil and gas infrastructure can be re-purposed for community solar systems, and how these projects can provide significant benefits to the energy industry, the environment, and the economy.

The widespread deployment of this concept will position Alberta as a world-wide leader in energy diversification.

The Project is receiving $2.1 million investment from the Municipal Climate Change Action Centre.

Insert quote about Renuwell project from project lead here.

Brian Peers, Director of Municipal Lands and Leases, Municipal District of Taber

Key goals of the project

The key goals of the project are:

  • developing 2 MW of distributed solar generation on abandoned oil and gas lease sites with Irrigation Canal Power Co-op Ltd (IRRICAN) in the M.D. of Taber by working with partners Elemental Energy, Canadian Solar, and SkyFire Energy,
  • training of 15 oil and gas workers to equip them for jobs in the renewable energy sector through a long-term collaboration for worker training between Iron and Earth and Medicine Hat College,
  • generating direct revenue for site owners and tax revenue for the municipality from sale of electricity of the completed projects,
  • increasing distributed solar generation without removing additional land from agriculture,
  • accelerating reclamation of inactive oil and gas wells,
  • providing additional revenue for the M.D. of Taber and Irrigation Canal Power Co-op Ltd (IRRICAN),
  • creating energy diversification and economic development opportunities and,
  • providing workforce training and transitioning energy sector workers to the renewable energy industry.

Benefits to Alberta

The successful implementation of this technology process and the knowledge generated could create the following benefits if expanded at full scale across Alberta:

  • Economic Activity
    • 77,500 direct full-time construction and 1,860 permanent jobs,
    • $1.1 billion investment in accelerated oil and gas reclamation,
    • 6,200 MW of solar PV generation capacity resulting in annual generation of 8,100,00 MWh, and,
    • $9.9 billion investment in solar construction.
  • Reducing costs
    • $155 million in oilfield reclamation savings due to re-using roads, power lines, and leases, and,
    • cost savings up to 40% for oilfield reclamation and 25% for solar construction.
  • Sharing the benefits
    • partnership between agriculture, conventional, and renewable energy sectors, and,
    • GHG emission reduction of approximately 4,300,000 tCO2e/year, and,
    • the opportunity for Alberta companies to export the methodology and techniques to other markets.

Knowledge Transfer Plan

The majority of Southern Alberta’s rural municipalities are impacted by the downturn in the oil and gas sector which impacts economic development, employment opportunities, and tax revenue. These municipalities and landowners are struggling with the effects of abandoned and orphaned legacy infrastructure.

The successful implementation of the knowledge transfer plan could result in:

  • increased economic development and employment opportunities in rural communities,
  • creating opportunities for young people entering the work force,
  • reducing conflict between agriculture and energy development,
  • repeatable and consistent methods for integrating distributed solar generation and re-purposing of legacy infrastructure, and,
  • improving the national and international reputation of Alberta’s oil and gas industry.

Learn more about the Municipal District of Taber: RenuWell Project in the Project Showcase. [ insert link to project showcase page].

Learn more about the two projects

Visit the project showcase to learn more about the community generation projects.