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City weighing $20K contribution to geothermal research

The Grande Prairie area has been tipped as one of the best in the province to research the potential of harnessing geothermal energy. The city is considering a $20,000 contribution to research project out of the University of Alberta that wants to study the top 10 geothermal producing sites in the province. Commitments already received from the County of Grande Prairie, the town of Hinton, and jointly from Clearwater County, the town of Rocky Mountain House, and the Village of Caroline total $65,000.

Councillor Kevin McLean says he’s excited by the possibility of supporting research into green energy.

“If this starts it through a University that needs collaboration to get grant from the FCM- the Federation of Canadian Municipalities- and if we come together to produce that 50 per cent and they come up with the other 50 per cent, then we have a study that within a couple of years could produce money, allocate jobs for workers, and could produce green energy.”

In total the research team is hoping to raise between $130,000 and $170,000 with half of the funding coming from grants that would match the funds contributed by municipalities.

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Here in the Grande Prairie area there are three sites that the team believes could be successful research sites. McLean says that while our region is heavily invested in the oil and gas sector, he doesn’t believe that supporting green energy is a conflict.

“No matter what you do, if you’re driving a vehicle or using a computer, we’re not totally in the new energy era yet and we may not be for many, many years. This just adds another piece that could maybe enhance the energy sector. It’s another avenue. I think it’s not a step back, it’s a step forward.”

The project is expected to get started sometime in 2016 once more sources of funding have been secured.

The city will decide whether or not to provide $20,000 to the project at the next regular council meeting.

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