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Thursday, 02 March 2017 05:59

Symposium planting SEEDS for a healthy alternative energy labour force

Written by  Prairie Post
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When people hear about the Southeast Alberta Energy Diversification Symposium (SEEDS) March 2-3 at the Medicine Hat College, the first reaction perhaps may be it is an environmental-focused event.

SEEDS spokespeople Theresa Hardiker, executive director of Economic Development Alliance of Southeast Alberta and Tracy Stroud, manager of business development at the college, say it’s not about ways to protect the environment. The focus is, in fact, about how labour markets and the potential for alternative energy-based companies.
The idea developed from organizations working together in August 2016. The EDA and the college also added Alberta Labour to the mix and through some preliminary discussions, the idea for such an event arose.
“It came from within a lot of conversations within our (economic development organization) support group and then Melanie Friesen (Alberta Labour) who is the other partner in the (SEEDS) organizing group wanted to identify the labour market that was going to come with alternative energy,” Hardiker explains. “We had so many different numbers floating around and what is it going to look like when those companies come here. We wanted to actually get a local perspective and have what that local optics was going to be.
“(A symposium)  all lined within our mandates and what we were going to do. We saw the opportunity with alternative energies coming in, and we decided to get in front of the curve and have a report with a local focus, local numbers and a local understanding.”
“We’re having all of these conversations already independently, we got to the economic practitioners group and we realized ‘wow, we’re all after the same thing; we’re all after that labour market information,’” adds Stroud. “How do we connect with those companies, (offer) training options, (and) trying to figure out the  (post-secondary) training options that they need.”

Registration for this symposium is now closed. The early-bird registration ended earlier in February and the regular $250 registration ended on Monday. They were accepting late registrations throughout the week, but now material and packages are now finalized, so registration has officially closed.

Symposium Itinerary (notable sessions)
Thursday, March 2
• 5-6:45 p.m. — SEEDS Registration; networking;
• 6:45-8:30 p.m.  — Welcome Dr. Denise Henning,  president Medicine Hat College. Opening Keynote: Chris Turner (National Speakers Bureau): speaker, strategist, and best-selling author of The Leap: How to Survive and Thrive in the Sustainable Economy.
Friday, March 3
• 8:30-9:30 a.m. — Welcome SEEDS emcee Martin Boucher (Researcher, Decentralized Energy); Minister Greetings Southeast Alberta Energy. Diversification Report: Our Region, Our Jobs, Our Community  Presentation Theresa Hardiker (Economic Development Alliance of Southeast Alberta); Tracy Stroud (Medicine Hat College); Melanie Friesen (Alberta Labour); Sandra Moore (Sandra Moore Consulting).  Southeast Alberta Energy Diversification Report: Our Region, Our Jobs, Our Community Panel Question and Answer session. 
• 9:30-10:15 a.m. — Blowin’ in the Wind Todd Pawsey (Development Officer, County of Paintearth, Central Alberta). A balanced  look at the impacts of alternative energy projects on rural Alberta municipalities.
From legal considerations of various land use policies, protection of landowners rights, road use constraints
to the resulting impacts on employment, taxation, and community development many facets of existing and proposed wind energy facilities in an east central Alberta county will be examined.
• 10:45-12 p.m. — Morning Keynote: The Alberta Electricity Sector, changes and opportunities for sustainable energy development; Sara Hastings-Simon (program director Clean Energy Economy, Pembina Institute, Calgary). This session will examine the changes to the electricity sector and outstanding design questions, as well as potential programs and policies that could be adopted. The impact of these on sustainable energy development and the industry in the province.
• 1-1:45 p.m. — PANEL SESSION 1: Attendees choose one of the four sessions to attend:
Innovation: Focus on innovative projects and technologies in southeast Alberta; BluEnergy Solar Wind Canada, Solar/wind hybrid technology; Ryan Dick, Terrapin Geothermics, Retrofitting oil and gas wells for geothermal power generation; Electric and natural gas vehicles;
Readiness: Focus on workforce preparation and development for the renewable energy industry. Victoria Waye, EnergeiaWorks; Recruiting for the renewables industry; Dennis Beaudoin, MHC Trades and Technology;
Awareness: Focus on the potential growth and opportunities associated with various renewable energy industries in Alberta; Renewable Energy Advocacy and Awareness Organizations;
Opportunity: Focus on companies who capitalize on southeast Alberta immense wind and solar resources. Ron Galbraith, RES, Wind Farm Seven Persons; Marcus Campbell, Terralta; Residential and Commercial Solar; David Kelly, SkyFire Energy.
• 2-2:45 p.m.— PANEL SESSION 2: Attendees choose one of the four sessions to attend. Note: These are the same sessions as Panel Session 1.
• 3:45-4:30 p.m. — Michael Fulsom (Alberta Climate Leadership Plan) director, Public and Stakeholder Engagement.
• 4:30-4:45 p.m. — Community Collaborations in Renewable Energy, Mark Keller (Director, College Advancement - Medicine Hat College).

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