Strathmoroe city corridor solar mission authorised

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Strathmore City Hall’s solar project will continue pending grant funding and after a reserve has been set up to cover any decommissioning costs.

During its regular session on February 17th, Strathmore City Council approved a proposal to build solar power on the roof of the new Strathmore Municipal Building. The 73.5 kilowatt solar photovoltaic system will be installed by SkyFire Energy Inc. at an estimated cost of approximately $ 120,000.

However, the decision was made contingent on receiving a grant from the Alberta Municipal Solar Program, which, if received, limits the city’s project costs to less than $ 70,000. Estimated program funding is a discount of $ 36,000 ($ 0.75 per watt) plus a first time applicant bonus of approximately $ 18,000 ($ 0.25 per watt). The cost comes from unspent funds allocated to City Hall.

The decision is made after proposals for solar roofs for the building with different project details and suppliers have been submitted. The council approved the approval of a solar panel for the building on May 20, 2020. However, this decision was postponed on September 2nd as funding for the project was uncertain. On October 21, the city council instructed the administration to re-pursue the concept of installing solar panels on the roof of the building.

Given SkyFire’s new proposal and the availability of grant funding, the council decided that the financial data for the project is now working. The project is expected to bring the city savings of around USD 4,500 per year while reducing the building’s dependence on the electricity grid by around 55 percent. However, the panels require approximately $ 1,000 per year of maintenance.

The administration returned with this new proposal on February 3rd, but the council wanted answers to several questions before making a decision, so the proposal was postponed to the next meeting on February 17th.

One of the questions raised by Councilor Tari Cockx during the February 3 meeting was whether the solar panel project would affect the view of residents in Lambert Village, across from the new meetinghouse on the other side of Second Avenue .

Because the top (third) floor of Lambert Village is under the roof of the city building, residents there won’t be able to see the panels or see reflections from them, Ethan Wilson, the city’s infrastructure manager, explained on February 17 meetings. The panels are static and placed at an optimal angle for Strathmore, which means, like some other systems, there will be no noise.

The solar panels will be accessible on the roof so the array can be serviced year round, including snow removal if necessary. Wilson says no changes to the current roof layout are required to install the panels.

Another issue raised by Councilor Jason Montgomery during the February 3rd meeting was the cost of recycling the panels at the end of their estimated 30-year life. SkyFire grants a three-year guarantee as well as manufacturer and product guarantees between 10 and 25 years.

There are currently options to recycle the panel materials, Wilson said. However, the panels would still have to be removed from the building and dismantled at the end of their life. However, there is evidence that the programs now available will improve in 30 years as the Alberta Recycling Management Authority launches a two-year pilot program for recycling electronics, including solar panels, he said.

In response to this uncertainty, Montgomery called for a reserve fund to be set up to fund the final removal and disposal of the solar array at the end of its life.

“Something that was very important to me is just that every time we start a new project or idea, we look at the path of what our future commitments are,” he said.

As part of the application for approval of the project, the city council spearheaded the establishment of a limited reserve fund for the end-of-life disposal of the solar array, which will be allocated $ 1,500 annually. The application for approval of the project was then accepted unanimously.

The continuation of the project is an achievement 10 years after the city hired a consultancy to produce a report called the Strathmore Community Sustainability Plan, which reported at the February 17th meeting how the city could be more sustainable Councilor Bob Sobol. One of the recommendations was the establishment of a sustainability committee.

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“They believe, like me, that it is time for the city to take more aggressive steps in using solar energy,” he said.

Other benefits of the project include reducing the building’s electricity bill to insure against rising electricity prices, being an environmentally friendly project and taking a leadership role in sustainability, Sobol said. “I support this project, which I see as a pilot project, and encourage the council to support our community’s first journey towards clean, sustainable energy.”

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