Severe weather, such as strong winds or snowstorms, can take its toll on utility infrastructure and it’s hoped the project will assist in mitigating some of the problems municipalities can face. Black Press file photo

Ponoka County joins Smart Communities project

Project slated to help communities adapt utility infrastructure to weather severe events

Four municipalities in the province have signed on to work on energy resilience with an Alberta company.

Ponoka County along with Big Lake County and the towns of Raymond and Black Diamond will work with QUEST Canada on a one-year project designed to adapt energy infrastructure to better weather extreme events.

In a release issued Jan. 28, QUEST executive director Tonja Leach explained the company chose these particular municipal partners due to their leadership and interest in becoming “Smart Energy” communities.

“Municipalities and utilities are on the front lines when it comes to responding to energy and grid-related impacts of climate change and QUEST is committed to developing Canadian-based tools and processes so that we are all better prepared,” she said.

“We are looking forward to working with Big Lake County, Ponoka County, the Town of Black Diamond, and the Town of Raymond. Lessons learned in these communities will serve to inform other communities in Alberta as well as across Canada to advance Smart Energy Communities.”

From Ponoka County’s perspective, this is a great opportunity to share with and learn from others in a project the county believes is very worthwhile.

“The year, 2020, is a fitting year to be fortunate enough to have Ponoka County participate in such a worthwhile project,” said Ponoka County Reeve Paul McLauchlin in the release.

“With advances in energy technology coupled with the noticeable changes in severe weather events in Alberta, Ponoka County looks forward to improving collaboration, integration and planning as it relates to municipal and energy services. It is only with collaboration at a local level in addition to new ways of thinking can we ensure citizens of municipalities that critical infrastructure is protected or quickly re-established from disrupting events.”

By combining cutting-edge research on the growing frequency of extreme weather events and their disruption of the provincial energy system along with the role of new technologies, the project will include workshops with municipal partners and utility companies plus other stakeholders in developing lessons and key findings that will be useful across the province.

Reports will be generated for each of the four municipalities, then shared with others to help align utility planning and asset management that will work to increase their energy resilience and mitigate negative economic impacts from events such as prolonged power outages.

QUEST is a non-governmental agency dedicated to advancing Smart Energy Communities in Canada by adapting energy infrastructure to more extreme weather events and securing the continuation of energy services are key components of Smart Energy Communities.

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