Alberta needs to develop renewable energy policies, says Greengate Power head

The Alberta government needs to develop renewable energy policies to spur on further development of renewable energy projects, says the president and CEO of the company building the largest wind farm in Canada.

Dan Balaban, head of Calgary-based Greengate Power Corp., said Wednesday the 300-MW Blackspring Ridge project near Carmangay has been developed despite no provincial support.

“We’re looking for the government to say that they prefer clean sources of energy,” he said.

The Blackspring Ridge project has been granted approval by the Alberta Energy Commission, and Greengate is finalizing financing for the $650-million project.

The project is expected to start in the first half of 2013 and be completed by the first half of 2014, said Balaban.

The wind farm project has gone ahead solely on the economics, said Balaban.

Balaban is not advocating for subsidies but rather changing the emissions intensity of the power industry so that the province shifts away from non-renewable resources and towards renewable resources.

“I’m looking for a market-oriented solution,” he said.

Alberta currently relies heavily on aging and increasingly volatile coal plants, and coal produces emission harmful to the environment and to people’s health, said Balaban.

“The largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in Alberta comes from coal, not the oil sands,” he said.

When oil production increases, more coal is burned to keep up, he said.

The oil and gas industry is vital to the success of the Alberta and Canadian economies, but what’s powering that industry needs to change, said Balaban.

“We use the dirtiest (power) in North America,” he said.

With Alberta facing national and international pressure to limit development of the oil sands, Balaban said now would be a good time to adopt a renewable energy policy.