The Southern Alberta Energy Partnership recently released the findings of an economic impact study that was commissioned in the fall to measure the impact of alternative energy investments within the region.
The Southern Alberta Alternative Energy Partnership (SAAEP), Thornton said, is a collaboration of SouthGrow Regional Economic Development, Alberta SouthWest Regional Economic Development and Economic Development Lethbridge. The partnership, Thornton said, contacted expertise to do the research and create the report and the researcher compiled the report form industry information, project developers and municipalities.
“Alberta has an abundance of energy resources, and while our oil and gas industry is of primary importance to the province, wind and solar are an increasingly important part of the total energy story,” Bev Thornton, Executive Director of the Alberta SouthWest Regional Alliance, said.
The purpose of the study, Thornton said, was to quantify some of the current energy activity in southern Alberta and to give communities within that area some estimated figures regarding the current investment in wind and solar. Identifying the number of jobs associated with the construction phase and the ongoing operating phase was another reason for the study, Thornton said.
“It is of value to the province to diversify and develop all its energy assets.” Thornton said. “This report included “shovel-ready” alternative energy projects, those projects either entering construction, or with confirmed Alberta Utilities Commission (AUC) approval, completed permitting, and/or with an executed Power Purchase Agreement in place.”
Thornton said that the Southern Alberta Alternative Energy Partnership (SAAEP) gathered information on nine new solar and wind projects projects currently in progress to illustrate the value of local energy assets. The data, compiled by Renewable Randolph Consulting, looked at the economic impact of 6 solar and 3 wind projects that are either being constructed or are approved for construction from 2019 – 2022, Thornton said.
“This represents only part of the total picture, as this does not include the large projects already established, and new projects still awaiting approval,” Thornton said. “This report serves to illustrate the scope of investment that is coming into the region and is limited in scope and is a high-level estimate of regional economic impacts of the projects currently underway in the SouthGrow and Alberta SouthWest regions.”
The report itself, Thornton said, gathered numbers related to capital expenditure, and calculated projected expenditures and local benefits. The total capital expenditure of the nine projects, with six being solar and three being wind, is $1.56 billion dollars.
“Regional economic impacts, from a combination of factors including like construction, annual land lease revenues, tax assessment for municipalities, construction and ongoing operations jobs, is estimated at almost $239M dollars between 2019 and 2022,” Thornton said.
Thornton said that the study is unique in that it compiles data from diverse sources into one summary document. The study, Thronton adds, also provides a projection of jobs needed, which helps the communities and local businesses identify opportunities and also anticipate labor market needs.
“We see individual projects on the landscape, but we do not fully realize what economic value that represents,” Thornton said. “The report truly reveals just how significant alternative energy investments are for the provincial economy.”