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Oil-rich Alberta sees momentum for wind energy

Nearly three quarters of a billion U.S. dollars in investments and competitive consumer rates is a win-win, a provincial leader said.

By Daniel J. Graeber
The provincial Canadian government of Alberta said it received strong industry interest to build up the wind power capacity. File photo by Pat Benic/UPI. | <a href="/News_Photos/lp/833bea26bd37c1293e356b236baf9877/" target="_blank">License Photo</a>
The provincial Canadian government of Alberta said it received strong industry interest to build up the wind power capacity. File photo by Pat Benic/UPI. | License Photo

Dec. 14 (UPI) -- The provincial government in Alberta said the industry response to a renewable energy program was better than expected, with almost $1 billion committed.

Along with much of the Canadian economy, Alberta is adding layers of diversity with low-carbon ambitions. Solar power in the province doubled in 2015 thanks in part to municipal and farm-area incentive programs. Since a municipal rebate program was launched last year, Alberta said 28 new solar installations have been financed.

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The government said three companies responding to the opening round of a bid for more access committed to about $780 million (USD) in private-sector investments toward wind energy. Combined, three companies -- Capital Power, EDP Renewables Canada Ltd. and Enel Green Power North America, Inc. -- could add about 600 megawatts in wind power to the grid in Alberta, about 200 MW more than provincial leaders planned.

The provincial government said the weighted average price for energy from the bidders meant Alberta would have some of the lowest rates in the country and in North America.

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"These prices are beyond expectations, highlighting the strong potential of renewable power in Alberta, the quality of the competitive process and the positive view that investors have of our province," Margaret McCuaig-Boyd, the provincial energy minister, said in a statement. "This is a win for power generators, a win for the environment and a win for Albertans."

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The provincial renewable energy project is part of a broader effort to green up the economy. By 2030, the government expects to have 30 percent of its electricity supplied by renewable energy. Through that effort, Alberta expects to see more than 7,000 jobs created through at least $7.8 billion in investments.

A provincial climate effort provides $347 million for the oil sands industry to look for ways to stimulate production, while at the same time cutting emissions and adjusting to new rules for large emitters expected from the provincial government before the year is out.

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Other funds go to support ways the agricultural and manufacturing sectors can reduce emissions, grants from bioenergy projects and loan guarantees for renewable energy.

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