By Maura Forrest
February 11, 2016
The Alberta government is investing $5.5 million in solar power projects for municipalities and farms.
The announcement was made last week as part of the government’s Climate Leadership Plan, which was unveiled by Premier Rachel Notley in November 2015. The plan includes a province-wide carbon tax, a phase-out of coal pollution by 2030 and an emissions cap on oil-sands production.
According to the latest announcement, the government will invest $5 million in the Municipal Climate Change Action Centre to fund the Alberta Municipal Solar Program. The program will provide rebates of up to 75 cents per watt, to a maximum of $300,000, for solar installations on municipal buildings, including offices and community centres.
Another $500,000 will go to the On-Farm Solar Management program, and will provide funding for farmers to install solar systems and generate their own electricity.
“This investment will spur economic growth and help with the transition to cleaner sources of electricity, which will protect our health,” said Alberta Environment Minister Shannon Phillips in a news release.
The Canadian Press reports that the municipal solar funding is an extension of an existing program offered by the centre. The agricultural program follows up on a pilot project that added almost 500 kilowatts of electrical capacity to Alberta’s grid.
According to the report, the programs are expected to fund 160 projects and cut greenhouse-gas emissions by up to 8,400 tonnes over the next 25 years.
The On-Farm Solar Management program opened for applications on Monday. The Municipal Solar Program will begin to accept applications on March 1.
The Alberta government is also looking at changing regulations to allow people who generate their own wind and solar power to earn money by selling excess electricity into the grid.
As of August 2015, about 38 per cent of Alberta’s electrical capacity comes from coal, while almost 44 per cent comes from natural gas.
The NDP government’s plan to eliminate pollution from coal by 2030 means that 40 per cent of the province’s coal-fired plants will have to shut down early, according to the Globe and Mail.