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Alberta puts more weight behind solar power

Province aims to have 10,000 rooftop solar installations by 2020.

By Daniel J. Graeber
Alberta Environment Minister Shannon Phillips puts government weight behind efforts to advance solar installations for provincial residents. Photo courtesy of the provincial government of Alberta.
Alberta Environment Minister Shannon Phillips puts government weight behind efforts to advance solar installations for provincial residents. Photo courtesy of the provincial government of Alberta.

Feb. 28 (UPI) -- The provincial government in oil-rich Alberta said it was looking for a third party to help advance a program to incentivize solar power for its residents.

The government said solar power in the province doubled in 2015 thanks in part to a municipal and farm-area incentive program. By this summer, rebates could go out to those in the residential and commercial sector who have qualifying rooftop solar panels installed.

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Alberta issued a request for proposals to help deliver a new program that envisions up to a 30 percent decline in solar installations with the goal having 10,000 new rooftop installations by 2020.

"There's a lot of buzz in Alberta around small-scale solar," Environment Minister Shannon Phillips said in a statement. "This program will make solar power affordable for more Albertans."

The new program is expected to help create up to 900 new jobs in an emerging solar power sector in Alberta. Already in the neighboring United States, jobs associated with solar installations are among the fastest growing in the labor market.

Alberta relies heavily on the fossil fuels industry for energy and has advanced diversification schemes during a market downturn characterized by lower crude oil prices. The provincial economy has lingered in recession because of energy sector weakness, but is starting to turn the corner.

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"A sustained government push has been the missing piece for creating local jobs and clean energy in our province," Rob Harlan, the executive director of the Solar Energy Society of Alberta, said.

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