As Alberta phases out coal-fired electricity production, it’s creating opportunities for all Albertans to participate in an energy transformation.
The emergence of local community-owned energy production as part of a switch to more renewable power generation provides consumers far greater influence over the definition, management and execution of a wind, solar, geothermal or biomass project.
There are significant benefits from community ownership of renewable energy production for families, businesses, communities and the economy. It can turn energy infrastructure — typically considered a liability by local communities — into an asset with financial and social benefits.
Calgary Economic Development recently co-hosted the Alberta Community Energy workshop with Pembina Institute that included more than 80 stakeholders from rural, municipal and provincial governments, economic development organizations, First Nations, non-governmental organizations, post-secondary institutions and students.
The conversation quickly turned to why would a community team want to take this on? The answers came easy:
Not every community has the desire or capacity to develop a renewable energy project but there are options – a for-profit or not-for-profit business model, for example – for those that do.
Project leadership for can come from members of the community, associations, entrepreneurs, businesses, school boards, municipalities or post-secondary institutions. A diverse set of skills are required for business planning, financial modelling, legal expertise and sales and marketing to acquire funds, increase membership and encourage community involvement.
There are numerous local opportunities; for example:
Participants in the workshop encouraged Albertans to understand their choices and take an active role in their energy future.
Community-owned renewable energy projects are a way to get involved and learn about energy production alongside your neighbours. In Calgary, a local group has launched a crowd-funding campaign for Alberta Solar Co-op where people can learn more about community energy ownership from folks just like them.
Megan Zimmerman is Business Development Manager for Technology and Renewable Energy at Calgary Economic Development. Barend Dronkers is a consultant focused on community-based sustainability projects for Pembina Institute.
- See more at: http://www.calgaryeconomicdevelopment.com/media/article/2016/community-energy-electricity-transformer#sthash.ct3HB6aF.dpuf