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Southern Alberta Economic Development Organizations Partner to Launch Major Alternative Energy Initiative

November 6, 2006

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November 6, 2006

Southern Alberta Economic Development Organizations Partner to Launch Major Alternative Energy Initiative

Two provincial Regional Economic Development Alliances (REDA) and community-based Economic Development Lethbridge (EDL) announced a new partnership today that will focus on making southwestern Alberta a leader in alternative energy production and manufacturing.

The leaders of the SouthGrow Regional Initiative, Alberta SouthWest Regional Alliance, EDL and the 36 communities participated in the launch today in Lethbridge where the purpose and opportunity of the newly-formed Southern Alberta Alternative Energy Partnership (SAAEP) was explained.

John Kolk, chair of the SAAEP Advisory Committee, said, “We see a vast potential for this region to diversify itself into an alternative energy powerhouse on a global scale and we are confident we have access to the resources, strategies and expertise to ensure that happens.”

Paul Pharo, Board chair for EDL, said, “By joining together, we have created a far greater opportunity to become leaders in alternative energy production and manufacturing. All of us have assets and resources that, combined, generate strengths that none of us has alone.”

The Partnership is being supported by an Advisory Committee comprised of 15 members from the region is have an interest or expertise in alternative energy (see backgrounder). This committee is gathering information on three specific renewable energy sources, wind, solar and bio-energy, and will be making recommendations back to the sponsoring Boards on the best opportunities to be pursued and the barriers that need to be addressed. Though still in its early stages, the initiative has already drawn strong support from both agricultural producers and businesses that recognize the benefits of this regional strategy.

Bob Bagozzi, vice-chair of SouthGrow, spoke about the opportunity to use our natural resources to benefit society and diversify the Alberta economy. “Technological advances and the increasing demand for energy have created the opportunity to turn our natural resources into renewable energy. Wind and solar energy technologies have been around for quite a while but it is just now becoming commercially viable and consumer-demanded. This makes today the perfect time to work together on the best strategies for application of these resources.”

Bagozzi also referred to the opportunity for agriculture producers and the importance of waste management when it comes to bio-energy, which includes products like ethanol and bio-diesel. He added, “These bio-fuels have the potential to increase financial returns to farmers while significantly reducing the environmental impacts of traditional energy sources.”

The Chair of the Alberta SouthWest Regional Alliance, Ted Smith, spoke to the benefits partnership brings in expanding this opportunity across this region of Alberta, where oil and gas resources are less prevalent than elsewhere in the province. Smith said, “The world of energy is changing and, by opening up to partnership opportunities, our region can lead the way in Alberta, if not in the country and beyond, in creating green alternatives that are sure to be needed even more in the future.”

The SAAEP Advisory Committee will be meeting regularly throughout the fall and winter to learn more from subject matter experts on each of the three areas of priority: wind, solar and bio-energy. Public consultation plans are being developed to gather input and ideas from interested people in the region early next year. Following that, the Advisory Committee will be making recommendations back to the three sponsoring organizations on implementation strategies.

In the meantime, the provincial and federal governments have announced financial programs to support developers and producers in establishing projects and the SAAEP is actively working with these stakeholders to build opportunities into this region.

SouthGrow Regional Initiative and Alberta SouthWest Regional Alliance are part of the REDA system composed of 12 regions within Alberta. The REDA’s were established by Alberta Economic Development to support regionally-created economic initiatives.

Economic Development Lethbridge is an independent, community-based organization with 24 board members whose mission is to implement proactive strategies and promote Lethbridge as a great place to live, learn, visit, invest and do business. -30-

For more information, contact:
John Kolk
Chair, Southern Alberta Alternative Energy Partnership Advisory Committee
Phone: 403 330 9479

Cheryl Dick
Economic Development Lethbridge
403 331 0022

Linda Erickson
SouthGrow Regional Initiative
403 381 5414

Bev Thornton
Alberta SouthWest Regional Alliance
403 627 1165

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