April 13 (UPI) -- Giving municipal leaders the ability to make it easier for home and business owners to take greener decisions will diversify the economy, Alberta said.
Alberta is the top oil producer in Canada, but has taken steps to add layers of diversity to an economy that was left exposed to the decline in crude oil prices two years ago. The provincial government last month launched a challenge to heavy polluters, saying they could apply for $27 million in funding to cut emissions of greenhouse gasses and improve their cost competitiveness. The funding was part of a broader $1 billion, seven-year investment.
Legislators proposed an act that would let municipalities set up Property Assessed Clean Energy programs that would let home and business owners do more with renewable energy options like solar panels without putting any money down up front.
By provincial estimates, every $1 million in PACE development creates a dozen new jobs and as much as $2.5 million in economic output.
"When we make it easier for people to invest in their homes or their businesses, we're creating good green jobs and diversifying the economy," Environment Minister Shannon Phillips said in a statement.
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 in 2016, more than two dozen new solar installations have been financed in the province.
The PACE proposal followed a decision from the consortium managing the expansion of the Trans Mountain oil pipeline to the western Canadian coast. Pipeline company Kinder Morgan said "extraordinary political risks" made the multi-billion dollar project a burden for shareholders.
Alberta Premier Rachel Notley said her government was prepared to become an investor in the pipeline project.
Before Kinder Morgan's decision, Alberta Finance Minister Joe Ceci said additional pipelines could lift provincial gross domestic product by as much as 2 percent by 2023.
PACE legislation proposed Thursday would enter into force next year if approved.