A special council meeting was called Friday for the Village of Innisfree, and one of the main agenda items was a potential Solar Panel Project.
A motion was passed to research additional solar companies and grant information with administration’s findings to be presented at the April 20, council meeting.
“There is such a movement towards energy efficiency and this type of thing, so I can’t see why there would be any opposition to improving our situation that way,” said Mayor Deborah McMann.
The village had quotes from a couple years ago when they began looking at the project from Solar Ninjas, as well as a list of federal funding available provided by the office of MP Shannon Stubbs.
At that time the project list included the village office, the maintenance shop/public works building, the water treatment facility, and the campground/RV park. There is a possibility that only two or three of those may be included in the final tender.
The letter from the federal government indicated that the community is working towards potential projects including LED lighting and efficiency, solar power, as well as electric vehicle charging infrastructure as they are a key stopover point between destinations.
“Is it the right time to move forward with the project when we have other projects on the go with the current viability, COVID and the times?” said CAO Brooke Magosse.
“Solar energy is moving forward in the right direction – I just think we should take some time to do more research and speak to other companies to see what they bring to the table. Solar Ninjas may very well be the company to go with, I just want to make sure we are doing our part.”
Mayor McMann said, “I think it is. I can’t imagine why we wouldn’t get approved for this project.”
Although the other grants were not guaranteed, she said they would have some funding from the federal gas tax, but would also need that to cover a lot of their other projects under their viability review.
Magosse considered sending bids to other companies to get competitive comparisons so they didn’t have to rely on the one company.
“I was really excited about this project a couple years ago when we first heard about it. We’ve never had another bid,” said Deputy Mayor Aaron Cannan.
If the project stays as is, some of the solar panels would be built with screw piles in the ground, and some with centre truss anchors on the roof. The panels would come with a 25 year warranty and inverters with a 12-25 years warranty.
Solar Ninjas’ previous estimate for the four locations would total $239,219. The would be gaining $62,945 from the Alberta Solar Rebate program leaving an estimated $176,274 cost.
Solar Ninjas claims a benefit to the project would be enhanced prestige of the municipality giving them the ability to attract and retain residents, businesses and investment.
For the office building alone, they identify several opportunities to improve energy efficiency, and say that based on a four year average, the village would offset approximately 86 per cent of their energy use with solar.
In addition, if they complete all of the project locations together, they could save over $10,000.
“I hate to pay any of this money before we know whether we can complete the project,” said Councillor William Oudshoorn.
A current contract for Solar Ninjas was looking to have $1,500 paid up front to have the representative continue looking into the grants.