Solar in Oil Country
Brazeau County is located to the west of Drayton Valley, about 150 kilometers southwest of Edmonton, in the heart of oil and gas country. Its economic engine is oil and gas, forestry, agriculture and tourism.
Bart Guyon is a rancher and businessman. Decked out in his trademark suspenders, the Reeve of Brazeau County certainly looks the part.
“We saw the instability of the whole electrical industry and who is providing power. We saw that the governments were looking at starting the carbon tax so we just thought we’d try something that might be able to help stabilize our energy costs,” says Guyon.
“We know that the only place the power prices will go is up. And when you see the carbon tax, we’ve got $20 bucks a tonne right now and another $10 bucks next year, Trudeau wants to add $20,” says Guyon. “You never know where that’s going to end.”
So, Brazeau County started looking at solar energy. They have since installed 900 solar modules on county buildings.
“We’ve put solar panels on our county office building where we hold our meetings, we’ve got it on our shop, we’ve got it on our water facilities and we’ve got it on our fire station at Lodgepole,” says Guyon.
Guyon says the county has looked at numerous alternative energy strategies such as hydro, run-of-river and wind, as well as combined heat and power, a more efficient way of using natural gas.
“We’re clearly an oil and gas town, that’s what fuels this county. We’ve got forestry and they are a significant contributor to jobs and we’ve got agriculture and tourism, but clearly it’s oil and gas. What we are trying to do is take a look at the different opportunities with alternative energy. Regardless of how efficient we are at producing our hydrocarbons the world is moving to alternative energy and we need to be part of that program,” say Guyon.
It’s a forward-looking strategy that Guyon says will serve residents and the county well.
It’s one thing to generate clean electricity, but Guyon now wants to complete an energy audit on county buildings to find savings using energy efficiency. “Grandpa said there’s two ways to make money, the money you make and the money you save.”