On February 5, 2016, the Government of Alberta announced an
investment of more than $5 million into two solar energy programs
aimed at growing Alberta's renewable energy sector – the
Alberta Municipal Solar Program for Alberta municipalities, and the
On-Farm Solar Management Program for eligible farmers. These
programs are essentially a province-wide extension of similar small
scale programs run in communities such as Banff
The Alberta Municipal Solar Program ("AMSP") will
provide incentives for the installation of solar photovoltaics on
municipal buildings through a rebate ($ per watt) of up to 20
percent of capital costs or $300,000 per project. The On-Farm Solar
Management Program ("OFSMP") will provide eligible
farmers with a grant of up to 25 percent of the costs of
installation of small scale solar photovoltaic systems, up to a
maximum of $50,000 per application. In total, the two programs are
expected to provide funding for 160 projects across Alberta.
Applications for the OFSMP opened on February 8, 2016, while
applications for the AMSP will open on March 1, 2016. Further
information on the Alberta Municipal Solar Program can be found here.
Alberta's Climate Leadership Plan
This solar incentives announcement comes less than three months
after Premier Rachel Notley's announcement of Alberta's new
Climate Leadership Plan on November 20, 2015. The Climate
Leadership Plan includes, among other things, the phase-out of
coal-fired electricity generation in the province, a phased-in
increase in renewable energy production to 30 percent of supply by
2030, an economy wide carbon tax, and a cap on total carbon
emissions from the oil sands.
Alberta's Commitment to Clean Energy
While the above solar incentive programs may only be a modest
investment in growing the renewable energy capacity in Alberta,
Environment Minister Shannon Phillips stressed, "this is just
the beginning".1 Programs such as the AMSP and
OFSMP are just the first steps in pushing for greater renewable
energy in Alberta. If these programs are successful, there is
potential for investments in similar programs for much larger
industrial projects as Alberta pushes to achieve the objectives of
the Climate Leadership Plan.
Alberta's Renewable Energy Investment Potential
Traditionally, the prosperity of Alberta was fuelled by an
abundance of attainable hydro-carbons. This hydro-carbon based
prosperity however masks an enormous potential for renewable energy
that Alberta can utilize to meet the renewable energy goals of the
Climate Leadership Plan. A 2014 report by The Pembina Institute
noted Alberta's renewable energy potential for the following
Wind – 150,000 MW;
Hydro – 11,000 MW; and
Geothermal – 120,000 MW.2
In addition, Alberta has some of the best solar resource in the
country3 and the Pembina Institute further noted that
Alberta's solar energy potential would be sufficient to meet
its entire demand for electricity.4 This enormous
renewable energy potential in Alberta, when combined with
Alberta's steadily increasing energy demand and the expected
supply gap created by the phase-out of coal-fired electricity
generation, creates a great opportunity for renewable energy
investments in Alberta.5
With announcements like the solar energy incentives putting
support behind the goals of the Climate Leadership Plan, and the
potential wider application of similar programs that are necessary
to achieve Alberta's energy goals, Alberta has the potential to
re-define its role as Canada's leader in the energy industry
through renewable energy investment.
The foregoing provides only an overview and does not
constitute legal advice. Readers are cautioned against making any
decisions based on this material alone. Rather, specific legal
advice should be obtained.
Canada is a constitutional monarchy, a parliamentary democracy and a federation comprised of ten provinces and three territories. Canada's judiciary is independent of the legislative and executive branches of Government.
The Government of Alberta recently announced a number of policy changes that will impact the Alberta Electricity Market, composed of its generators, transmitters, distributors, retailers, electricity consumers and wholesale electricity market.
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