The 2019 Southern Alberta Energy Forum took place at the Fort Macleod Town Office in Fort Macleod, Alberta on May 15. 

The event began with lunch, introductions, and opening remarks from Peter Casurella, Executive Director of SouthGrow Regional Solutions. Casurella explained that the event was hosted by the Pembina Institute and the Southern Alberta Alternative Energy Partnership (SAAEP) and that the efforts of both hosts is why the event transpired. 

“SAAEP was formed in 2007 to provide research and consultation with industry, communities and all levels of government to identify opportunities and to encourage investment in growth in alternative and renewable energy champion, the development of renewable energy in southern Alberta,” Casurella said.

Casurella went on to share that Southern Alberta is globally recognized as a destination of low energy generation. Our region, Casurella said, has seen over a million dollars in investments and investment in the industry only continues to grow. Casurella also said that it is truly amazing what collaborative regional economic developments can accomplish when its resources and power strive to achieve big picture projects over the long term and he is truly excited to see what our organizations together can accomplish in the future.

Following Casurella’s remarks, the group was treated to a presentation called ‘Emerging Trendings’ by Binnu Jeyakumar of the Pembina Institute. Jeyakumar said that the Pembina Institute has done a great deal of work at various engagements to engage shareholders in issues surrounding different types of developments to ensure that the developments unfold in a responsible way.

“Economics is what's driving a lot of changes for governments and private sectors,” Jeyakumar said. “The consumer expectations are changing and consumers want to see better and more sophisticated efficiency programs.”

After Jeyakumar’s presentation, Rory Gattens of FLO, Rebecca Fiisel Schafer of Ecofitt, David Vonesch of Skyfire Energy, and Robert Stewart of Rocky Mountain Power talked about their companies and opportunities that are available concerning energy efficiency, renewable energy, and prospects within the electric vehicle industry.

Gattens explained about how FLO’s parent company, AddEnergie, was founded in 2009 in Quebec City and is the operator of Canada’s largest charging networks. To date, Gattens said, FLO has over 8,000 charging stations on the network with over 40,000 electric vehicle drivers using the network. As of March 2018, Gattens said that Flo has 80,000 electric vehicles in Canada with 18,000 of those being in British Columbia and 5,500 in Alberta. 

Despite the progress with EV’s, Gattens emphasized that there are still many challenges including parking lot designs, spaces that work, weather issues, legal barriers, and cost barriers. All of these issues, Gattens, said have clear cut solutions that will only work if people are cooperative.

Fiisel Schafer from EcoFitt then talked about how the company helps both residential and commercial customers with energy efficiency. The trend they are currently facing, however, is that their clients are changing with municipalities and small businesses are seeking to reduce their carbon footprint. 

David Vonesch of Sky Fire Energy then showed the different solar installations that his company had done throughout many areas. He emphasized that Sky Fire was willing to work for and with clients to make sure they are happy with the service they receive.

“Not every building is suited for solar work, but we work with municipalities to achieve their goals in the best possible way,” Vonesch said.

Robert Stewart of Rocky Mountain Power followed Sky Fire’s presentation by sharing that they develop renewable energy and energy storage projects through collaboration with other companies. Among other things, Stewart touched upon a few types of Community Generation projects that the company pursues; self-consumption, independent power producer, and hybrid. The company, Stewart said, can also support development and contracting. Stewart also briefly touched upon Peak Load Battery Projects and said that RMP is always looking for new clients.

Clayton Blood, General Manager of Kainaiwa Resources Inc then took a few minutes to speak. Blood shared that the First Nations people found that the federal government is not managing Indigenous resources well, nor are they properly managing the money that comes from royalties. Blood said that the Indigenous people have been  aggressively trying to get involved and take management of their own affairs.

“When we first heard about the renewable energies program back in 2015-2016, we went to the new NDP government and started knocking on the door saying we would like to be involved,” Blood said. “We told the government that we wanted to be involved in not just in the community generation level, but also in the utility side of things. We want to try and break away from that pattern and be involved in something.”

Blood said that the Indigenous people have hardware distribution networks, wind, natural gas, and all sorts of natural resources coming through their communities. The Indigenous Peoples don’t want to just be passive royalty collectors, Blood said; they want to be part of the process. 

The focus then switched over to the topic of Resources and Financing and Ranice Macyk of ATB, Keith Knudsen of Solas Energy Consulting, and Suzanne Ebelher of Business Link shared about products, strategies, and resources that are available to help businesses find a measure of success in today’s economy.

Rance talked about how ATB really needs feedback about the challenges people are facing when it comes to getting involved in the entrepreneur industry so that they can improve upon already developed programs. Knudsen explained that Solas Energy Consulting is able to do feasibility assessments for renewable energy projects to provide help to businesses so time and money are not wasted. Ebelher said that Business Link helps up to 16,000 entrepreneurs a year with free services and also provides clients with access to approximately $15,000 worth of market data so entrepreneurs can be successful in their pursuits. All four also discussed how risk and mitigation strategies also play a part in what they invest in.

“It’s all about value proposition,” Ebelher said. “What opportunity will you meet and and bring to the market? Think about the value you could bring to the market.”

After a 30 minute networking break, Greg Robinson from the Town of Raymond, Calum MacLennan from Green Cat Renewables, and Gavin Scott from the Oldman River Regional Services Commission talked about projects and partnerships that their local governments are currently pursuing or developing. Once the presentations were completed, the group then discussed what could be done to improve upon what had been presented during the event.

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