Wider Horizons

Lethbridge College has joined forces with the Southern Alberta Alternative Energy Partnership towind turbines promote wind energy. SAAEP is an initiative of three economic development organizations seeking to harness readily available resources to promote the production and manufacturing of wind energy, bio energy and solar energy.

Economic Development Lethbridge (EDL), South Grow Regional Initiative and the Alberta Southwest Regional Alliance formed SAAEP to nurture all three forms of renewable energy. But it is with the Wind Energy Cluster Action Plan that Lethbridge College brings to the table its expertise in personnel training, a major component of the initiative.

Cheryl Dick, CEO of EDL, says research shows industrial clusters improve productivity and performance, as evidenced in another southern Alberta phenomenon: food production.

“Food production is strong in southern Alberta because it brings together the various aspects required and creates a critical mass,” says Dick. “Using that as a model, we believe we can work together to expand a wind energy cluster. We know there is production already going on. The idea is to take our product and enhance it by adding components such as equipment manufacturing, research and service.”

The college is already turning out skilled manpower required by the industry to keep its equipment operating.

“Through our partnership with the college, it’s easy to demonstrate to the established players in the wind energy industry that in southern Alberta we can provide the well qualified and trained staff they’ll need if they establish here and that’s a real competitive advantage,” says Dick.

If wind turbines rotate quietly on the rangelands and grain fields of the south, a few squeaks will be required to gain the needed interest and investment from the provincial government to keep them turning.

“Our regional partnership gets attention when we speak, but we are competing with the provinces of Ontario and Quebec, which have put in place clear policies supporting wind energy development,” says Dick. “It’s important we share that information with the province through consistent communication so the opportunities and benefits of wind energy gain momentum on the province’s agenda

Wider Horizons
Lethbridge College
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