by Morinville News Staff

Municipalities and farmers will have access to more than $5 million to implement solar power and support job creation.

This investment was announced Friday as part of the province’s Climate Leadership Plan. The government says the move will help build Alberta’s green energy sector, including creating jobs in the project design and construction sectors, while supporting jobs and growth in the renewable energy supply chain.

The Municipal Climate Change Action Centre will receive $5 million for a solar energy incentive program – the Alberta Municipal Solar Program. This program will provide rebates of up to $0.75 per watt, to a maximum of $300,000 per project, to municipalities for installing solar on municipal buildings, such as offices, fire halls, community centres and other town-owned facilities.

On-Farm Solar Management, another program launched Friday, will provide $500,000 in provincial and federal funding towards solar energy systems on Alberta farms. The program will help producers generate their own electricity and reduce their carbon emissions.

“We must take action at all levels in combatting climate change – federally, provincially and locally,” said Shannon Phillips, Minister of Environment and Parks in a release Friday morning. “This investment will spur economic growth and help with the transition to cleaner sources of electricity, which will protect our health.”

Morinville Mayor and AUMA President Lisa Holmes sees Friday’s announcement as good opportunities for municipalities to show environmental stewardship.

“Today’s announcement of funding for solar energy will enable Alberta’s municipalities to demonstrate climate leadership at a local level, through using renewable energy in municipal buildings and increasing public awareness,” Holmes said in the release. “This is an opportunity for municipalities to demonstrate environmental stewardship and showcase the benefits of solar energy.”

But farmers see benefit to the announcement as well, particularly Sturgeon County dairy farmer John Bocock, who has been using solar for more five years.

“Since 2010, our farm has been producing electricity as well as food,” he said. “We installed 24 solar panels on our barn roof. Both we and our installer were pleasantly surprised at how hassle-free it was to get our regular meter replaced with a two-way meter so that we get credit when we produce more power than we are using. Solar energy mitigates climate change and diversifies Alberta’s economy.”

The Alberta Municipal Solar Program opens for applications on March 1. The On-Farm Solar Management program’s application window opens on February 8.

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