AlbertaSW: Powering Economic Development with Renewable Energy

Alberta Southwest Regional Economic Development Alliance (AlbertaSW) sits along the United States border, where the prairies meet the Rocky Mountains, and where an abundance of sun and wind offers opportunity in the renewables industry. In 1993, the first commercial wind farm was built in southwest Alberta, establishing it as the birthplace of the wind industry in Canada. As the industry has matured, the region’s communities have collaborated to build upon these natural assets.

AlbertaSW at a Glance

  • Member Communities: 15
  • Area: 15,174 sq km
  • Population: 36,775
  • Major Projects Value: $2 billion
  • Number of Businesses: 1,410
  • Key Industries: Agriculture, Alternative Energy, Energy, Tourism
  • Website:

Sources: Government of Alberta, AlbertaSW

AlbertaSW is a founding member of the Southern Alberta Alternative Energy Partnership (SAAEP), an affiliation of three economic development organizations. A study completed to quantify economic impact of new projects in the partner regions, through to the end of 2021, found that nine projects (six solar and three wind) will represent an investment of $1.56 billion with community benefit estimated at $256 million.

“Our focus has been to build community awareness and to be prepared to manage the opportunities related to solar, wind and clean technology development,” says Bev Thornton, executive director of AlbertaSW. “Our key industry sectors require attention to responsible business development and AlbertaSW is proud to be recognized on a list of Top 100 Sustainable Global Destinations.”

Thornton notes that the work of the three SAAEP leadership organizations began in 2006, when renewable energy innovators were working on projects in isolation. Raising the SAAEP banner created a way to begin making connections. The initiative has grown naturally, supporting innovation and harnessing the power of people and partnerships.

“Agriculture, renewable energy and our historic, cultural and recreational attractions all depend on healthy, productive landscapes,” she adds.