Edmonton signs 20-year wind and solar contracts as part of net-zero goal

It's a step towards net zero: the City of Edmonton has found a way to reduce carbon emissions by 30 per cent in its operations. As Sarah Komadina reports, it's planning to use 100 per cent renewable electricity.

The City of Edmonton signed two contracts for renewable energy that will start providing power in 2024 and prevent over 95,000 tonnes of carbon per year from entering the atmosphere.

Eighty per cent of the power created through these contracts is wind generated and 20 per cent of the power is solar generated.

Mayor Amarjeet Sohi called these agreements “exciting” steps being taken towards Edmonton’s “ambitious” net-zero target.

“Our city made a very strong commitment to tackle climate change… and I think every institution needs to play a role,” he said. “We are making every effort to green our operations.

“This contract will allow us to reduce emissions by 30 per cent from our current operations,” Sohi added. “That’s a significant reduction over the next 20 years. But we need to do more. We have 70 per cent target that we haven’t met yet.”

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Edmonton has a 20-year wind contract with Ontario-based Capstone Infrastructure Corporation to provide renewable attributes from approximately 270,000 MWh per year generated by the Wild Rose 2 Wind Farm, currently in development in Cypress County.

“This innovative partnership demonstrates how the renewable energy sector and municipalities can work together to drive the energy transition forward and help build a low-carbon future for Canada,” said David Eva, CEO of Capstone Infrastructure Corporation.

The city also has a 20-year solar contract with Alberta-based BluEarth Renewables of Calgary for renewable attributes of approximately 70,000 MWh per year.

“BluEarth was pleased to be involved in the well-run, rigorous tender process and we look forward to working with the City of Edmonton as they lead the way in climate change mitigation efforts,” said Grant Arnold, president and CEO of BluEarth Renewables.

“As an Alberta-based company, we are proud to once again demonstrate how renewables can take a larger role in the energy mix.”

BluEarth’s Wheatcrest Solar project, located in the Municipal District of Taber, will add an additional 50 MW to Alberta’s power grid when completed.

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The agreements are part of Edmonton’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The green energy contracts mean the city will use 100 per cent renewable electricity for the next 20 years.

“Edmonton is stepping up and making the bold changes needed to meet our ambitious climate goals,” Sohi said. “We are leading by example to show that big organizations can make investments today that significantly reduce GHG emissions for years to come.

“These new wind and solar contracts are a great example of how the city can work with industry to reach a green energy future.”

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Edmonton has set a goal of being carbon neutral in its corporate operations by 2040 and for the entire community to produce net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

“We need to think of the long-term plan, not in the immediate way,” Sohi said. “There may be additional costs immediately, but what are the implications of us not taking action on climate change?”

“The power generated by these contracts will prevent over 95,000 tonnes of carbon per year from entering the atmosphere and will add more capacity to Alberta’s power grid,” said Kent Snyder, branch manager for planning and environment services.

“As we transition to more electric vehicles on the road and less use of fossil fuels in vehicles, homes and industry, this will be crucial to meeting our climate change targets.”

Snyder said the price of the contracts is confidential.

“What we can comment on is renewable energy within Alberta is cost-competitive with conventional fossil fuel energy generation. So, it is within the competitive market range. We are not purchasing the energy for a greater price.

“I don’t think Edmontonians will see any changes to their contributions to taxes or assessments. These are renewable energy credits that we have purchased since 2013.”

He added that the wind and solar power will be used for city facilities.

“This will not impact individual rates of Edmontonians or business owners.”

Sara Hastings-Simon with Sustainable Energy Development said it’s a good way to reduce emissions for electricity that’s being used.
“It’s a way for companies to invest directly into renewables, have new projects that get built — they’re locking in the price they are paying for power — while also buying those attributes.

“This is really a great way to address those electricity emissions… electricity that the city purchases for its own operations… Obviously when it comes to the city’s fleet of vehicles or other direct emissions that they are contributing to, they need to take different actions.”

In her opinion, this kind of deal makes more sense than buying “unbundled renewable energy” and it sends a message.

“It’s really moving the needle on the build-out of lower-admitting sources of electricity generation and it’s doing it in a way that will protect the city from the volatility of power prices.”

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The contracts were selected in a bid process and the mayor said he wasn’t sure if EPCOR participated.

“In our overall energy transition strategy, EPCOR is absolutely a significant partner and their policies are aligned with city policies,” Sohi said.

“As for the contract … this is a competitive bid process and there’s requirements we have to follow.”

In a statement to Global News, EPCOR explained it’s focused on the distribution and infrastructure service.

“This announcement by the city does not impact EPCOR business operations, as we are the owner and operator of the wires and infrastructure that distributes power to customers in Edmonton.

“This purchase of green energy/credits is a separate business decision by the city.”

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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