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County explores green options

More solar and CEIP could come soon

Sturgeon County plans to tap into the power of the sun and PACE with two moves meant to encourage energy efficiency. 

County council supported a motion from Mayor Alanna Hnatiw April 27 to have administration research the feasibility of starting a Clean Energy Improvement Program (CEIP) to help property owners make energy efficient upgrades to their properties.  

CEIP is Alberta’s version of Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE), a popular financial tool that lets property owners buy energy efficiency upgrades such as solar panels for no money down which they pay for over many years through a property tax levy. The tool is seen as a way to encourage people to make upgrades to save energy and address global heating.  

In an interview, Hnatiw said she decided to look into CEIP after hearing many complaints from residents, especially farmers, about rising energy costs.  

“This (CEIP) is an opportunity to help people and potentially businesses as well to finance the changes they need to make to control their costs,” Hnatiw said, adding that it could also create local jobs.  

St. Albert and Edmonton both have CEIP programs in the works in 2021. Hnatiw said county council would likely discuss CEIP during this fall’s budget debates.  

Council also authorized administration to research additional opportunities to erect solar panels on county property using grants from the Municipal Climate Change Action Centre in order to save money and reduce environmental impacts. 

County administration built its first solar array atop the Protective Services building in March 2020 with the help of a $86,000 grant from the action centre, council heard. That 300-odd-panel array has since produced about 143 megawatt-hours of electricity and prevented some 56,000 kg of greenhouse gas emissions (equivalent to taking about 12 cars off the road for a year, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reports). 

Coun. Wayne Bokenfohr said the county had to lead by example when it came to the environment. 

“The more we can get to net zero, the better we will be.” 

Administration would now put out a call for proposals for solar projects on county lands and buildings and report back to council later this year. 

Kevin Ma

About the Author: Kevin Ma

Kevin Ma joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2006. He writes about Sturgeon County, education, the environment, agriculture, science and aboriginal affairs. He also contributes features, photographs and video.
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