City to plan for electricity challenges

Climate change and energy generation

City council wants Red Deer’s electrical infrastructure better prepared to withstand severe weather.

On Monday council unanimously approved a notice of motion put forward by Coun. Paul Harris directing administration to develop a plan to strengthen both public and private infrastructure in the face of more frequent climate change events while meeting imminent electrical demand challenges in the changing transportation sector.

Administration was also asked to consider electricity generation and storage solutions to mitigate electrical fluctuations resulting from factors outside municipal control, and that a preliminary report be brought to council in conjunction with the 2018 capital budget with detailed plans in subsequent budgets.

Harris said the city is looking at $500,000 to $1 million in damages to electrical infrastructure from the June 20 windstorm.

“This storm to me wasn’t a big storm when you think about the ice storm they had in Quebec a couple of years ago. That would take a lot of our infrastructure out right now. Our newer neighbourhoods may do better, but when think about the number of power lines that run to those newer neighbourhoods, they would all collapse,” Harris said.

He said the cost of repairs from the June storm are going to be a big hit to the city and will result in an operating budget deficit for the coming year. The city has to start adapting its electrical infrastructure now.

“We should start as soon as we can. It’s only going to get crazier out there I think. Everything I’ve read says it’s going to be a lot more severe in the decades to come.”

He said burying power lines will be required and it would be useful if the city developed an incentive program for residents to bury their own power lines, similar to the city’s rebate programs for rain barrels and low-flow toilets.

When it comes to electricity generation, the city is looking at projects like methane capture at the landfill and already has solar energy at the civic yards, he said.

“We are looking at a number of energy generation possibilities now. We not only need to generate electricity, we also need to make it resilient to climate change at the same time.”

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