GFM Network News


Solar panels lose a little bit of efficiency each year but the irrigation district’s arrays come with a guarantee of 80 per cent output in 25 years’ time.

Inspired by farmers, irrigation district aims for ‘net zero’

St. Mary River Irrigation District moves a lot of water and has a big electric bill — but that’s about to change

The St. Mary River Irrigation District is putting the sun to work providing water to its users. Solar arrays at two large pump stations have the district in a position to achieve net zero electrical use — and potentially save hundreds of thousands in electricity costs down the road. The inspiration to look at solar came […] Read more



The first step in finding a solar contractor is to check the PV installers directory of the Solar Energy Society of Alberta, which includes info on how long they’ve been in business and what types of systems they’ve installed.

Watch out for yourself in solar land

If you’re looking for a solar contractor, there’s no shortage of them. And that can be a problem. Thanks in part to large-scale incentives by the provincial government to boost use of solar energy, the number of solar photovoltaic (PV) installers has doubled over the past two years — 223 are listed on the Solar […] Read more



There are a host of factors to consider before deciding on a solar photovoltaic system, says Erika Grintals of Solar Optix Energy Services, pictured here next to a 170.2-kW system using bi-facial modules installed at 
G + C Farms in Bow Island.

The sun doesn’t always shine on every solar project

It’s a good time to install a solar system, but you need to consider many factors before plunging in

If you’re a producer who has recently decided to install a solar photovoltaic (PV) array on your farm or ranch, your timing is right. Under the Alberta Agriculture and Forestry On-Farm Solar Voltaics Program, the provincial government is offering to cover up to 35 per cent of costs for producers building on-farm, grid-tied solar systems. […] Read more

The 200-kilowatt array on Nelson Family Ranches is big enough to supply electricity to both its feedlot operation and irrigation pivots.

Government cash makes it a sunny day for solar power

Growing Forward 2 has put extra dollars on the table, but they’re expected 
to be snapped up in a hurry

If you want to get into solar, there’s now more government cash on the table — but you’ll have to hurry. The On-Farm Solar Photovoltaics Program now offers 75 cents per watt for projects of 100 kilowatts or less, and 56 cents per watt for installations that are between 100 and 150 watts. Both have […] Read more


When the herd is a province away, you need reliable water

Beiseker rancher has solar waterer for 100 cow-calf pairs he grazes across the Saskatchewan border

The phrase ‘remote watering’ takes on a new meaning on Duane Kent’s farm. Kent lives in Beiseker (northeast of Calgary) but also has a four-quarter pasture more than 500 kilometres away in Biggar, Sask. The site has no natural surface water and it would cost $30,000 to bring in electrical power. So he relies on […] Read more

Innovative tour takes cyclists through the Battle River watershed

More than 70 per cent of the watershed is agricultural but it also has a variety of energy providers

An intrepid group of cyclists recently set out to explore the Battle River watershed on an innovative tour, spending three days travelling to small towns and hidden gems in the area. “The intention of the tour has been looking at all of our different energy options,” said Nathalie Stanley Olson, education and outreach co-ordinator with […] Read more


Can producers make money as solar power providers?

The province is currently consulting stakeholders on a framework that could help farmers do this

In many places, farmers are allowed to turn a profit by tying their solar power systems into the electrical grid. Albertans can export solar electricity to the grid — but there are currently no programs allowing system sizes larger than those that meet on-site electrical requirements. “Alberta’s micro-generation law was crafted for homeowners, business owners, […] Read more

Cattle grazer Steve Kenyon and wife Amber Kenyon have gone almost completely off-grid with a solar system purchased on the online classified site Kijiji.

The solar power math is starting to add up

A steep drop in solar prices is giving a new meaning to ‘green’ power — 
and giving Alberta farmers a way to cut energy costs

Cory Nelson isn’t what you might call a ‘tree hugger.’ But the Grassy Lake-area farmer is a businessman, and to him, solar energy just makes good financial sense. “We view it as an investment,” said Nelson, who grows a variety of crops under irrigation on his southern Alberta farm. “Our best math said it was […] Read more