The Village of Stirling is entering the energy game with its own multi-utility company called Ridge Utilities Ltd.
“The village was looking for a new source of revenue and a new way to provide better services, not just to our residents, but residents in our region,” Stirling Mayor Trevor Lewington said. “So energy marketing is an opportunity in Alberta because of our deregulated market.”
The services will include electricity, natural gas, internet and green energy at competitive prices.
Stirling officials say a major benefit is that profits generated can be invested back into the community.
“It also allows us to build an infrastructure fund,” Stirling CAO Scott Donselaar said. “So we can build a fund for capital projects.”
As the first net-zero village in Canada, Stirling officials add the services are a perfect pairing with local solar and wind projects.
“We also have a program where people can buy renewable energy credits,” Lewington explained. “So they can choose what percentage of their monthly utility consumption they want to get from green sources, and help promote more renewable energy in the province.”
Nick Clark, the director with the overarching company Utility Network & Partners Inc. says the business model is already a proven success.
“We created that model up in Olds 10 years ago,” Clark said. “And they’ve generated well over a million dollars in profit for their community.”
Clark also says prices can be adjusted or deferred more easily in times of economic crisis — or for certain groups such as seniors — than they would with a larger energy company.
“What Stirling will be able to offer their customers, is we’re a little more sensitive to the needs of our customer base,” Clark said.
And with more jobs created within the province by companies like Ridge Utilities, Lewington says the profits will continue to go to improving Albertan communities like Stirling for years to come.
“This is just an opportunity for people to buy local, source their energy locally, and see profits from that purchase invested back in the region,” Lewington said.