By Amanda Stephenson
CALGARY – The solar and wind industries could be about to take off, proponents say, if a long-awaited renewable energy framework becomes a reality in Alberta.
The need for a comprehensive plan governing wind, solar, and geothermal electricity generation in Alberta has been discussed for years in Alberta. As far back as 2007, a group called the Clean Air Strategic Alliance — made up of representatives selected by government, industry, and the non-profit sector — recommended drafting such a framework with the goal of increasing Alberta’s supply of and demand for renewable and alternative electricity sources.
For the most part, the government has remained tight-lipped about its plans. But Monday’s throne speech contained a line promising the introduction of “an alternative and renewable energy framework that empowers consumers to exercise choice within the market-based electricity system.”
That’s significant, said Robert Hornung, president of the Canadian Wind Energy Association. He said Alberta was at one time a leader in Canada on the renewable energy front, thanks to its ideal conditions for wind generation. But other provinces such as Quebec and Ontario have leaped ahead, in part because they have renewable energy policies that are helping to grow the sector.
“We’ve seen more and more of that investment flow to other jurisdictions,” Hornung said. “We will need to see some changes, because if the status quo is maintained, Alberta will have a hard time competing for this investment going forward.”