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November 6, 2006

Southern Alberta Economic Development Organizations Partner to Launch Major Alternative Energy Initiative

Two provincial Regional Economic Development Alliances (REDA) and community-based Economic Development Lethbridge (EDL) announced a new partnership today that will focus on making southwestern Alberta a leader in alternative energy production and manufacturing.

The leaders of the SouthGrow Regional Initiative, Alberta SouthWest Regional Alliance, EDL and the 36 communities participated in the launch today in Lethbridge where the purpose and opportunity of the newly-formed Southern Alberta Alternative Energy Partnership (SAAEP) was explained.

John Kolk, chair of the SAAEP Advisory Committee, said, “We see a vast potential for this region to diversify itself into an alternative energy powerhouse on a global scale and we are confident we have access to the resources, strategies and expertise to ensure that happens.”

Paul Pharo, Board chair for EDL, said, “By joining together, we have created a far greater opportunity to become leaders in alternative energy production and manufacturing. All of us have assets and resources that, combined, generate strengths that none of us has alone.”

The Partnership is being supported by an Advisory Committee comprised of 15 members from the region is have an interest or expertise in alternative energy (see backgrounder). This committee is gathering information on three specific renewable energy sources, wind, solar and bio-energy, and will be making recommendations back to the sponsoring Boards on the best opportunities to be pursued and the barriers that need to be addressed. Though still in its early stages, the initiative has already drawn strong support from both agricultural producers and businesses that recognize the benefits of this regional strategy.

Bob Bagozzi, vice-chair of SouthGrow, spoke about the opportunity to use our natural resources to benefit society and diversify the Alberta economy. “Technological advances and the increasing demand for energy have created the opportunity to turn our natural resources into renewable energy. Wind and solar energy technologies have been around for quite a while but it is just now becoming commercially viable and consumer-demanded. This makes today the perfect time to work together on the best strategies for application of these resources.”

Bagozzi also referred to the opportunity for agriculture producers and the importance of waste management when it comes to bio-energy, which includes products like ethanol and bio-diesel. He added, “These bio-fuels have the potential to increase financial returns to farmers while significantly reducing the environmental impacts of traditional energy sources.”

The Chair of the Alberta SouthWest Regional Alliance, Ted Smith, spoke to the benefits partnership brings in expanding this opportunity across this region of Alberta, where oil and gas resources are less prevalent than elsewhere in the province. Smith said, “The world of energy is changing and, by opening up to partnership opportunities, our region can lead the way in Alberta, if not in the country and beyond, in creating green alternatives that are sure to be needed even more in the future.”

The SAAEP Advisory Committee will be meeting regularly throughout the fall and winter to learn more from subject matter experts on each of the three areas of priority: wind, solar and bio-energy. Public consultation plans are being developed to gather input and ideas from interested people in the region early next year. Following that, the Advisory Committee will be making recommendations back to the three sponsoring organizations on implementation strategies.

In the meantime, the provincial and federal governments have announced financial programs to support developers and producers in establishing projects and the SAAEP is actively working with these stakeholders to build opportunities into this region.

SouthGrow Regional Initiative and Alberta SouthWest Regional Alliance are part of the REDA system composed of 12 regions within Alberta. The REDA’s were established by Alberta Economic Development to support regionally-created economic initiatives.

Economic Development Lethbridge is an independent, community-based organization with 24 board members whose mission is to implement proactive strategies and promote Lethbridge as a great place to live, learn, visit, invest and do business. -30-

For more information, contact:
John Kolk
Chair, Southern Alberta Alternative Energy Partnership Advisory Committee
Phone: 403 330 9479

Cheryl Dick
Economic Development Lethbridge
403 331 0022

Linda Erickson
SouthGrow Regional Initiative
403 381 5414

Bev Thornton
Alberta SouthWest Regional Alliance
403 627 1165

Southern Alberta Alternative Energy Partnership

Some Interesting Facts and Stats

Bio Energy

On May 24, 2006, the provinces and territories agreed to support a Government of Canada framework of 5% renewable fuel by 2010.

Canada’s target for ethanol requires that 35% of gasoline should contain E10 (10% ethanol) by 2010, a level six times our current processing capacity. A new blended product, E85 (85% ethanol), and the flex fuel vehicles that can use this new blend are now available in the US. Collectively Chrysler, Ford Motor Company and General Motors have about 4.5 million cars and trucks with E85 compatibility in North America. (Alberta Agriculture Growth Strategy, Ethanol Overview, September 2006)

To date, Alberta does not have a bio-diesel production facility. Current consumption in Alberta of diesel is 5.1 billion litres annually and a B5 target (5% bio-diesel blend) for on road transportation will require approximately 255 million litres of bio-diesel. (Alberta Agriculture Growth Strategy, Bio-diesel Overview, September 2006)


At this point in time, there has been over 1000MW of wind energy projects commissioned in Canada with over 2000 MW awarded and under construction.

In their most recent draft of the 10 Year Plan, Alberta Electric System Operator (AESO) have included a scenario with 3200 MW of wind generation on the system. Each MW of installed capacity represents $2 million in investment, creates 2.5 direct, and 8 indirect person years of employment.

Over 100,000 people are employed in the wind industry in Denmark, Germany and Spain. Vestas (a turbine manufacturer) now has 30 people based in Pincher Creek to service projects in that area. These jobs require skilled labour. It is estimated that wind makes up approximately 25% of the tax revenue for the MD of Pincher Creek. (Pheonix Engineering, September 2006.)


Solar electricity or photovoltaics (PV), is the generation of electricity directly from sunlight.

The Canadian PV market has grown at an average rate of 13% per year between 1999 and 2004, while internationally sales grew by 28% annually during the same period. At the end of 2004, Canada's PV installed capacity is almost 14 MW, in comparison to other countries such as Japan (1,132 MW) and Germany (794 MW). In 2004, it is estimated that the Canadian PV industry generated revenue of $30 million and employed over 500 people.

Green heat technologies, including solar thermal technologies, could reduce GHG emissions by 84 MT - almost one-third of Canada's target – and cover a range of applications including hot water, swimming pools, residential and commercial building heating, and agriculture crop drying. (The Canadian Solar Industries Association Brochure, Solar Energy – Powerful, Proven, Practical)

Southern Alberta Alternative Energy Partnership Advisory Committee

Committee members are representatives from the broad southwestern region and are stakeholders interested in alternative energy development for this area. The geographic boundaries that define this region cover the entire central/southwest of the province; from the BC border on the west, south to the U.S. border, as far east as Grassy Lake and north to include Vulcan County.

In particular, the committee’s role is to:

  • Review information on alternative energy opportunities and strategies specific to bio-energy, wind and solar energy
  • Identify barriers to development and recommend political lobbying strategies to support the growth of this sector in the region
  • Identify specific growth opportunities and make recommendations on developing industry interest
  • Recommend public consultation strategies to enhance broad-based awareness and understanding of the benefits and opportunities for developing alternative energy systems
  • Encourage local applications of alternative energy opportunities both at the municipal and individual stakeholder level.

The following Committee Members have agreed to serve in an advisory role for the first phase of the initiative, with a report due to the sponsoring boards in June of 2007.

Shane Cockwill Ted Smith Cal Koskowich
Del Allen Herb Groenenboom John Kolk
Bill Halley Broyce Jacobs Klaus Jericho
Paul Bohnert Shelley Boutilier Steve Cailliau
Rob Oliver Cor Van Ray Chris Spearman

Economic Partnership

In September of 2006, Economic Development Lethbridge, Alberta SouthWest Regional Alliance and Southgrow Regional Initiative signed a memorandum of understanding, the purpose of which is to “describe a cooperative framework, under which EDL, SouthGrow and Alberta Southwest will coordinate activities to support the research, and development of alternate energy opportunities for the region, specifically focused on solar, wind, and bio-energy development.”

The memorandum is signed by the board chairs of the three organizations. Additionally, the Board of Directors of each organizations has endorsed the Strategic Plan that will drive the implementation of this objective.

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