The Town of Cochrane’s Renewable Energy Framework (REF) was made official, after council approved the plan April 27.
The REF will act as the guiding document for any renewable energy project proposed for the town, and was spurred by Cochrane High School’s wind turbine project and the subsequent backlash that came along with the school’s plans.
All councillors voted in favour of the REF, with the exception of Coun. Morgan Nagel, who said that he did very much appreciate the plan and what it was trying to accomplish, but that he could not support the document as it called for council to approve the possible allocation of $50,000 toward a renewable energy initiative from the town.
Nagel said giving council the option to approve spending $50,000 on a renewable energy project that the town would have no certainty as to whether it would be successful or not was not something he was willing to vote in favour of, despite his overall approval of the REF.
“I’m not anti-environment,” said Nagel, “just anti-wasted projects.”
Though Mayor Ivan Brooker said the allocation of the $50,000 was ‘pretty vague,’ he did approve the plan.
Town CAO Julian deCocq said, “It’s there to allocate to a recommended action to see a tangible policy.”
The money was not placed in the REF for any specific project, but rather as an option for council to approve toward a project that could come to fruition sometime in the future.
Renewable energy technologies that were studied for the purposes of the REF included solar, geo-exchange, biomass district energy, micro-hydro pressure reducing valves and small wind.
Solar was found to be the most viable in the Cochrane area, while small wind was the least.
Coun. Ross Watson said the possible funding was a good idea because it ‘keeps town departments looking for energy efficiencies.’
Coun. Tara McFadden agreed, saying the town must take a leadership role when it comes to renewable energy.
If the $50,000 renewable energy funding were to be requested, it would come before council during yearly budget deliberations and a decision would be made at that time.
Coun. Gaynor Levisky said that when it comes to renewable energy, all the little things add up.
Council has updated its priority list for the next three years to reflect challenges, successes and changing demographics that it feels will be experienced from 2015-18.
The updated priorities will be used to build the 2016 divisional business plans and budgets. The Top 4 priorities for council moving forward are:
– Completion of Phase 4 of the aquatic/curling facility
– Improving roads and pathways
– Planning for a community cultural hub
– Implementing the Economic Development Strategy