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Solar company has plans for MD of Willow Creek

A solar energy company is looking at the MD of Willow Creek as a possible location for some large-scale solar energy projects.

At council’s Feb. 24 meeting they heard a presentation by Nikki Stitch and Kurt Molnar of  Kiwetinohk Resources Corporation.

Stitch said they were there to introduce themselves because they are looking at a solar project in the MD of Willow Creek and have approached land owners to hear their thoughts on that.

Molnar said their company was founded by Pat Carlson who has created five energy companies.

Kiwetinohk Resources is two years old as a private energy business backed by a capital commitment of $275-million from a financial organization and another $25-million from friends and family.

It is an active developer in oil and gas but in the future will launch green ventures which will include emerging technology and solar development in Alberta.

In northwest Alberta, they are looking at thermal projects consuming natural gas as a feedstock, and matching all projects with carbon capture technology.

The intention is also to move  to downstream technology, investing in power generation projects in the thermal area that will fit into the hydrogen economy.

All their equipment will be able to burn hydrogen or methane so they can easily transition.

In southern Alberta they are looking at solar energy.

There are about five locations identified in the broad regional context.

They are projects in the 300 to 500 megawatt scale.

Molnar said Pat Carlson, their chief executive officer, is community-minded.

For instance, unlike other CEOs who live in Calgary, he moved to Grande Prairie where a bulk of his company’s activity was. He became a part of the community and helped raise funds for a new hospital there.

Carlson looked to see what is important to the community not just his energy project.

Coun. Darry Markle asked if they were looking at southern Alberta specifically or southern Canada.

Molnar replied southern Alberta, because this province has a de-regulated energy market, unlike B.C. He stressed they have been Alberta focused.

Coun. Glen Alm thanked them for their presentation, noting it is refreshing to hear from a company before development.

Molnar recommended they review the municipal district’s land use by-law which outlines the municipality’s requirements.

Coun. Ian Sundquist asked about the size of solar farms.

Molnar said based on setbacks and contiguity of land, one could be 3,000 acres.

Sundquist said the MD of Willow Creek has classes of land it prefers to have development on, land that is not good for agricultural production.

The MD of Willow Creek wants to preserve good agricultural land.

Molnar said they would be back to talk to the MD of Willow Creek.

One of the most important things to their CEO is the relationship with the community.

Most companies talk about shareholders.

“We talk about stakeholders,” Molnar said. “We have to serve our stakeholders, not just our shareholders.”

“We will walk the talk as this process continues.”

Molar added he envisioned being back in front of council routinely.

“We will share as much or as little information as you would like,” Molnar said.

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