Economic Development Officer
Starland County, Alberta
Embracing solar technology
There is amazing potential for change in Canadian communities, especially rural ones. Starland County is a farming community of 1500 people. We’ve achieved success because of our community’s energy and enthusiasm—nothing great has ever been accomplished without enthusiasm and we’ve had that from the get go.
For our solar project to be successful, we knew we had to be proactive and make strong networks in our community. We had to get out there and ask the farmers if solar would work for them. We went to community hall meetings and hosted focus groups, taking solar panels with us and letting members touch them. When the racking and installation costs became high, we decided to build our own, training our farmers on how to do so. Still to this day, we remain proactive; the vast majority of my job is talking on the phone with farmers.
The farming industry is embracing solar technology. When I go to other farming communities, the question has changed from “Does this technology work?” to “Is now the right time?” There is indicator after indicator that this is certainly the right time. It’s important to be ahead of the change curve.
Opportunities created by an energy transition
If I had one message for all Canadians, it would be that now is the time to get involved. It’s exciting for our community to be involved in the financial opportunities created by an energy transition, and I think Alberta can achieve the same amount of success through support for renewables as it has through the oil and gas sectors.
This is not a side project in our community; it’s been the primary aspect of our economic development plan for the last four years. It has taken some time to see concrete benefits in our communities, but now we are seeing those returns. And now, it’s what our community is becoming known for.
Putting Starland County on the map
Previously, we would often say that you wouldn’t find us on a map unless you were looking for us. Now, I’d argue, we’ve put Starland County on the map as a Canadian leader in solar development—and it’s all because of the energy and enthusiasm of our community.
Starland County is becoming a solar energy leader in Alberta by installing 45 kW of solar panels on its government buildings. To support the County’s long-term goal of increasing accessibility to solar generation, Bullfrog Power is providing funding for an additional ten unique 10 kW solar PV installations on a number of Starland County farms and ranches.