Thursday, March 10, 2016

If Devon Can, Red Deer Can!

Hey everyone,

How inspiring is this? The town of Devon, Ab; the community that boomed when the first oil well was drilled in Alberta, is now leading the province again in an energy transformation! When oil was first discovered near Devon the entire province became an economic powerhouse! Now the people of Devon are doing it again by racing to become Canada’s first net-zero community!

What is Net-Zero? It’s when the input equals the output. In terms of solar, the amount of electricity generated is equal to the amount of electricity used. Compared to the off-the-grid design that uses expensive batteries, net-zero solar is tied into the grid and when it produces excess power; during the day, it gives to the grid and when it doesn't produce enough; during the night, it takes back from the grid. 

What better time to think about where the proverbial puck is going to be then during the midst of one of the worst economic downturns in memory. The town has recently installed a 100 KW solar project with 393 panels at its community centre with plans to upgrade 14 more buildings. 

The visionary Mayor of Devon, Stephen Lindop says “there could be solar panels put on buildings and homes across Alberta which would create all sorts of jobs and help diversify our economy.”

The race to net-zero is on. There are many communities across our province that are embracing solar. Just look at Banff, with a first of its kind in Canada; Solar Incentive Program, where the town buys the excess power that is generated from private installations. This moves the town towards its environmental goals, helps to diversify the economy and provide energy at a stable price.

Another great example of utilizing existing technology to enhance sustainability in an economical way is the community of Drake Landing in Okotoks, Ab. There are 52 homes that use solar for heat and electricity. Property values are up in this neighbourhood and energy bills are down. Win! Win!

There is a growing demand in Alberta for some real progress. Our goal as Albertan’s is to reduce our carbon footprint by having 30% renewable electricity by 2030. We can make that goal happen and it’s communities like Devon, Banff and Okotoks that are leading the way. 

With all that said, don't for a second think that because I am PRO-Solar that I am anti-oil. I have worked in the oil and gas industry for 10 years. I have benefited just like many others in this province. Just like everyone else, I too am suffering from this downturn. I have seen responsible developments and I have seen environmental catastrophes. I am proud of our heritage and I want to see this province continue to prosper. Let’s take the lessons of the past and look forward to new opportunities. Oil isn't the only resource we have. Let’s diversify!

So what can Red Deer do? We can build solar neighbourhoods. After the great success of my last video series about what it’s like to be a pedestrian in Red DeerI am now making a new video series about sustainability and how we can do it better in Red Deer. Stay tuned because the topic of rooftop solar is first on my list!


I look forward to hearing your ideas. Send me a message. Let's go for coffee!

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