Solar program working well, says minister

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A solar energy program involving Mountain View County has been a resounding success in its first year, according to Shannon Phillips, minister of environment and parks.

Phillips joined other dignitaries at the Mountain View County office on April 6 to mark the first anniversary of the Alberta Municipal Solar Program (AMSP).

Run through the province’s municipal climate change action centre, the $5-million AMSP has provided money for municipalities to install solar generation equipment.

With $34,000 from the program, Mountain View County installed a10.6-kilowatt solar installation on its new agricultural service shop.

“In these difficult economic times we are ensuring that the jobs and services that Albertans count on can be provided by municipalities and counties like right here in Mountain View,” said Phillips.

The AMSP supported 60 jobs provincewide over the past year, and has reduced municipality power bills by $391,000, she said.

Al Kemmere, a Mountain View County councillor and the president of the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties (AAMDC), said the program has been successful in the county and elsewhere in the province.

“Alberta has got to be, if not the best, then one of the best places for solar energy in the world,” said Kemmere. “We’ve got a gift here that I think we need to realize we can maximize on. Through the provincial partnership with municipalities I think we can maximize our opportunities.

“We look forward to continuing to work collaboratively with the province to support renewable energy generation in our communities.”

MVC Reeve Bruce Beattie also attended the April 6 press conference.

“Harnessing the sun is nothing new for rural Alberta, as we use that resource to produce our safe, clean food products,” he said. “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 of those technologies.”

Others in attendance were officials from SkyFire Energy Inc., the company that installed the solar panels on the MVC shop, and representatives from Didsbury and the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association.

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Dan Singleton

Dan Singleton is the editor of the Mountain View Gazette who joined the newspaper in 1994. He covers news, municipal politics and community events in Mountain View County. He is also a longtime columnist for other publications of Mountain View Publishing.