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Early success in Bow Valley helps solar energy company shine

BOW VALLEY – A Canmore-based company is helping create a brighter future with solar power and its beginnings in the valley have helped it grow throughout the province.
Solar Panels
The Town of Canmore Civic Centre roof has 192 solar panels on it, delivering 68,000 kilowatt hours of electricity to the facility.

BOW VALLEY – A Canmore-based company is helping create a brighter future with solar power and its beginnings in the valley have helped it grow throughout the province.

Live Solar Now began locally as KCP Energy and president Geoff Domenico was an early pioneer in solar energy system installations in the Bow Valley when he started his business in 2007.

“The support the Bow Valley gave us during the early years at a municipal level and the residents of the valley, helped us establish ourselves to start working all over the province,” Domenico said. “If I look back and think about it, being able to start our business in the Bow Valley and having the support we had was critical to our long-term success.

Live Solar Now may have had its humble solar beginnings in the valley, but with the increased popularity and affordability of solar power in Alberta, Domenico said it now operates warehouse space on the western edge of Calgary as well.

“I still consider us to be a Bow Valley company – we do a huge amount of work in Canmore and Banff, but also found it makes sense to be based out of Calgary.”

The company works on commercial and residential installations across the province and in B.C. It also has fulfilled several municipal contracts including the solar power for hot water on Elevation Place, the Seniors Centre solar power array in Canmore and many more.

Over time, he said solar modules have become more affordable across North America due to the increased production of them, as more and more residents and businesses seek out renewable energy options. The price for consumers of natural gas and electricity has also affected the uptake of solar throughout the province, added Domenico.

Recently, Energy Efficiency Alberta announced increased incentives for residential and commercial solar power installations.

Provincial officials say the industry has grown five times since 2015, diversifying the economy and creating jobs, as well as helping Albertans save money on their energy bills.

“Alberta is an energy province, and our investments in renewable energy have spurred unbelievable growth in the solar industry,” said Minister of Environment and Parks Shannon Phillips in a press release.

“We are supporting hundreds of jobs, saving Albertans money on energy bills and contributing to our renewable energy targets set out in our Climate Leadership Plan. Albertans are eager to install solar, and provincial programs make it that much easier.”

Over the past three years, about 3,100 solar installations have been completed provincewide, and solar capacity has gone from six megawatts to 35 MW. There are more than 300 certified companies installing solar projects, including Live Solar Now and consumers will save $92 million on energy bills as a result over the lifetime of the projects.

“With the implementation of the Climate Leadership Plan, these provincial programs have allowed Alberta’s burgeoning solar industry to grow and further establish itself, while also creating many small business, employment and training opportunities,” said Solar Energy Society of Alberta board chair Susan Petrina. “At the same time, government rebates continue to play an important role in helping encourage the adoption of new technologies.”

The incentives were recently increased by 15 per cent for residential installations from $0.75/watt to $0.90/watt and by 25 per cent for non-profits from $0.75/watt to $1/watt.

The per project cap for businesses and non-profits was also raised from $500,000 to $1 million.

CEO of Energy Efficiency Alberta Monica Curtis said the first year of the incentive program confirmed renewable energy has enormous potential to save money and greenhouse gases.

“Now we are delivering even more value to Albertans through offerings like customizable programs for residents and businesses, impressive returns on investment and … increased incentives to install solar technology,” Curtis said.

The province also announced an additional $7.5 million for municipalities to develop solar projects and $15 million from the Climate Leadership Plan to install more solar panels on schools throughout Alberta. Canmore has proposed five solar projects for its municipal buildings over the next several years.

Domenico said through his work in the industry, he has seen the Bow Valley lead the way in adopting solar, from local residents, municipal governments and schools.

He added the increased incentives make it even more viable for home or business owners to install solar installations. Currently, the average residential solar installation of seven kW would cost a homeowner $10,700.

“There is definitely more solar happening in Alberta this year than last year,” he said. “A tonne of interest was generated when the NDP introduced the program and the interest has only continued to grow with the newly improved incentives.”

Canmore resident Jerry Auld took advantage of incentives to install solar on his home. He said the decision is one he has not regretted and he supports the increased incentives the province announced this fall.

“We applaud the powers that be for helping Albertans access environmentally progressive ways to generate energy,” Auld said. “Having a solar system has been a game changer for my family and I am excited that more Albertans will have support to independently generate their own energy through this incentive.”

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