In one of the sunniest areas in the country, harnessing the power of solar just makes sense. The Village of Carmangay has become the latest southern Alberta community to jump aboard that sunny train.
The municipality has finished off a solar farm project that will produce nearly 150 KW of power, and is expected to save the village more than $13,000 annually.
“We not only are eliminating the electrical cost for all of our municipal infrastructure, but we have 50 per cent capacity available beyond that,” said Mayor Stacey Hovde.
Hovde said the additional energy will be used to power new electric car charging stations, among other things.
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The project was brought to the village by Lethbridge’s 3B Energy. Chief operating officer Milo Holthe grew up in the Carmangay area saw the positives in an opportunity.
“About a year ago the government had some opportunities available for municipalities to get some funding to do solar installations,” Holthe said. “Within the company I had taken a lot of time to research the opportunities that the government provides as far as grants, subsidies, or any other support.”
His pitch soon gained the support of village officials.
“We as a council met and decided it was a really worthwhile project, especially considering it’s all grant funding, and no municipal tax dollars would have to be used,” Mayor Hovde said.
Ringing in at $380,000, the project was funded through a number of provincial and federal sources: in part by the Alberta Municipal Solar Program offered by the Municipal Climate Change Action Centre, partly by an Alberta Municipal Sustainability Initiative grant, as well as the Federal Gas Tax Fund.
The solar farm includes 384 panels mounted two-high on three rows of racks.
The solar panels have a 25-year warranty and will require virtually no maintenance, Hovde said, adding the power savings will pay for the addition in the long run.
“We expect the panels to be paid off through the electrical cost savings in 15 years, so it is a very good investment for the future, for sure,” he said.
The mayor said with extra capacity available, he hopes the village can attract more investors, and with about 100 acres of undeveloped, municipal-owned land, he believes even more solar infrastructure could be installed in the future.