Investing in municipal community generation
The Municipal Climate Change Action Centre, a partnership of Alberta Urban Municipalities Association and Rural Municipalities of Alberta, is providing funding for two community renewable electricity generation projects through the Municipal Community Generation Challenge.
In 2019, the Municipal Climate Change Action Centre collaborated with Alberta Innovates to launch the Municipal Community Generation Challenge. The Challenge invited municipalities in Alberta to submit proposals for the development and implementation of community-scale renewable electricity generation projects.
These projects will produce multiple benefits including:
- reduced greenhouse gas emissions,
- diversification of the local economy, and
- capacity building resources to help other municipalities implement community generation initiatives.
A total of 43 municipalities expressed an interest in participating in the Challenge to support Alberta’s economic growth by developing community generation projects.
Tip: Learn more about the differences between micro, small scale and community generation.
The Action Centre and Alberta Innovates supported a three-stage application process, which narrowed down the number of applicants based on application strength as each stage progressed.
After successfully passing the first two stages of the application process, 10 municipalities were invited to prepare a full project proposal. A review panel consisting of leaders in community generation, alternative energy technology, and senior staff from both Alberta Innovates and the Municipal Climate Change Action Centre, analyzed all applications.
This spring, two proposals were selected to move forward for investment.
The Action Centre is investing a total of $6 million in two municipal renewable energy community generation projects in Alberta, including,
- Town of Smoky Lake: Métis Crossing Solar Project, $3.9 million
- Municipal District of Taber: RenuWell Project, $2.1 million
“The Action Centre is excited that municipalities are building resilient communities while energizing their local economies with renewable energy and community generation projects. We hope other municipalities will be inspired to replicate these projects, so all Albertans can see the benefits of community generation.”Trina Innes, Executive Director
Municipal Climate Change Action Centre
“Alberta Innovates is pleased to support this innovation opportunity for Alberta communities. In addition to helping municipalities reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and increase economic activity, our collaboration with the Municipal Climate Change Action Centre has built greater capacity in Alberta’s innovation system – by creating new networks among funders, small and medium companies, industry associations and communities.
These renewable power generation projects will produce data and knowledge that can be shared with other municipalities in Alberta so they can also increase their energy sustainability and economic prosperity.”John Zhou, Vice President Clean Resources
Town of Smoky Lake:
Métis Crossing Solar Project
The Métis Crossing Solar Project is a collaboration between two municipalities, the Town of Smoky Lake and Smoky Lake County; and an Indigenous community, the Métis Nation of Alberta.
This project will see the development and installation the 4.86 MW Métis Crossing Solar Project, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and generate economic and community benefits for the partnering communities. The Métis Crossing Solar Project will be the most northern grid connected solar generation project of significant size in Alberta once construction is complete.
The Project is receiving a $3.9 million investment from the Municipal Climate Change Action Centre.
“The Town of Smoky Lake and the Métis Nation of Alberta have a long history of collaboration, including this project. The Métis Crossing Solar Project will be a crucial economic development and infrastructure project for our local community. We are excited to see this project move forward.”Adam Kozakiewicz, Chief Administrative Officer
Town of Smoky Lake
“We are thrilled that our project will receive this important investment from the Municipal Climate Change Action Centre through our partnership with the Town of Smoky Lake on the Municipal Community Generation Challenge. The Métis Crossing Solar Project is an important step for the Métis Nation of Alberta in taking meaningful action on climate change, while creating economic and social benefits for Métis Albertans.”Audrey Poitras, President
Métis Nation of Alberta
“The Alberta Urban Municipalities Association is pleased to see the Town of Smoky Lake receive this funding contribution for the Métis Crossing Solar Project, which demonstrates a respectful partnership between local municipalities and the Métis Nation of Alberta. This project will be the most northern grid-connected solar generation system of significant size in Alberta and will generate countless economic and social benefits for the Town, County, and Métis Nation of Alberta.”Barry Morishita, President
Alberta Urban Municipalities Association
The key goals of the project are:
- developing a 4.86 MW solar system that will offset the electricity used by Métis Nation of Alberta operations across Alberta,
- funding social and economic development initiatives and programs to benefit Alberta Métis using a portion of Métis Crossing Solar Project profits,
- providing significant tax revenue to Smoky Lake County,
- adding benefits to the municipal partners’ communities through its open ownership structure and creation of a local community development fund, and,
- serving the local communities energy needs and reducing congestion on current transmission infrastructure now, and in the future with geographic distribution of large scale generation.
Benefits to Alberta
The successful implementation of this technology and the knowledge generated could create the following benefits for Alberta:
- Economic opportunity
- Several communities will see economic benefits from project investment, tax generation, job creation, and revenues.
- Reducing costs
- As maintaining current energy infrastructure costs represent a larger share of consumer energy costs, community generation will help avoid further infrastructure investments and cost increases.
- Reducing volatility
- Geographic diversity in renewable generation effectively firms the overall generation mix, reducing the need for peaking generation resources and improving the viability of storage as an alternative to peaking generation.
Knowledge Transfer Plan
For the benefit of all Albertans, the project partners will share key learnings and celebrate the solar project’s success using the Rupertsland Centre for Teaching and Learning as a hosting place for school field trips and adult programming.
The Métis Nation of Alberta plans to use the Centre and the solar PV system to engage over 10,000 students and adult learners in renewable energy, climate change and energy efficiency annually, starting once the solar system construction is complete.
Learn more about the Métis Crossing Solar Project in the Project Showcase.
Municipal District of Taber: RenuWell Project
The RenuWell Project will demonstrate how legacy oil and gas infrastructure can be re-purposed for community solar systems, and how these projects can provide significant benefits to the energy industry, the environment, and the economy.
The widespread deployment of this concept will position Alberta as a world-wide leader in energy diversification.
The Project is receiving $2.1 million investment from the Municipal Climate Change Action Centre.
“The M.D. of Taber is excited to work with their extensive list of partners to accelerate small scale solar development in the municipality. The project has many benefits including the clean-up and re-purposing of abandoned oil and gas sites, diversifying the assessment base for the M.D. of Taber, and providing the opportunity for the irrigation industry and others to access reliable lower cost power. The M.D. of Taber is partnering with RenuWell Energy Solutions, IRRICAN (Irrigation Canal Co-operative Ltd, SMRID, TID, and RID), Canadian Solar Inc., SkyFire Energy Inc., the Medicine Hat College, and Iron and Earth to develop 2 MW of solar electricity on several sites across the municipality.”Merrill Harris, Reeve
Municipal District of Taber
“Rural Municipalities of Alberta is excited to see the M.D. of Taber receive this funding contribution for the RenuWell Project which aims to repurpose legacy oil and gas infrastructure for community solar systems. Successful deployment of this project will demonstrate to municipalities across Alberta how orphaned well sites can be put back into use, generating valuable tax revenue and investing in an environmentally friendly future.”Al Kemmere, President
Rural Municipalities of Alberta
The key goals of the project are:
- developing 2 MW of distributed solar generation on abandoned oil and gas lease sites with Irrigation Canal Power Co-op Ltd (IRRICAN) in the M.D. of Taber by working with partners Elemental Energy, Canadian Solar, and SkyFire Energy,
- accelerating reclamation of inactive oil and gas wells while creating energy diversification and economic development opportunities,
- providing workforce training and transitioning energy sector workers to the renewable energy industry by training of 15 oil and gas workers to equip them for jobs in the renewable energy sector, through a long-term collaboration for worker training between Iron and Earth and Medicine Hat College,
- generating direct revenue for site owners and tax revenue for the municipality from sale of electricity of the completed projects,
- increasing distributed solar generation without removing additional land from agriculture, and,
- providing additional revenue for the M.D. of Taber and Irrigation Canal Power Co-op Ltd (IRRICAN).
Benefits to Alberta
The successful implementation of this technology process and the knowledge generated could create the following benefits if expanded at full scale across Alberta:
- Economic activity
- 77,500 direct full-time construction and 1,860 permanent jobs,
- $1.1 billion investment in accelerated oil and gas reclamation,
- 6,200 MW of solar PV generation capacity resulting in annual generation of 8,100,00 MWh, and,
- $9.9 billion investment in solar construction.
- Reducing costs
- $155 million in oilfield reclamation savings due to re-using roads, power lines, and leases, and,
- cost savings up to 40% for oilfield reclamation and 25% for solar construction.
- Sharing the benefits
- partnership between agriculture, conventional, and renewable energy sectors,
- GHG emission reduction of approximately 4,300,000 tCO2e/year, and,
- the opportunity for Alberta companies to export the methodology and techniques to other markets.
Knowledge Transfer Plan
The majority of Southern Alberta’s rural municipalities are impacted by the downturn in the oil and gas sector which impacts economic development, employment opportunities, and tax revenue. These municipalities and landowners are struggling with the effects of abandoned and orphaned legacy infrastructure.
The successful implementation of the knowledge transfer plan could result in:
- increased economic development and employment opportunities in rural communities,
- creating opportunities for young people entering the work force,
- reducing conflict between agriculture and energy development,
- repeatable and consistent methods for integrating distributed solar generation and re-purposing of legacy infrastructure, and,
- improving the national and international reputation of Alberta’s oil and gas industry.
Learn more about the Municipal District of Taber: RenuWell Project in the Project Showcase.
Special thank you to the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association, Rural Municipalities of Alberta, and Alberta Innovates for their dedication and support for the Municipal Community Generation Challenge.
Visit the project showcase
Learn more about these community generation projects