Sunny days are big payoffs for the Saint-Laurent borough.
Forty-five new solar panels have been added to the rooftop of the main office building as a new way to generate energy and help save on utility expenses.
The modules were installed last fall as a way to help heat, cool and provide electricity to the building. The solar energy system is there to supplement but not replace hydroelectric power provided by Hydro-Québec.
“We are kind of keen to be able to use the heat of the sun to be able to respond to our heating and cooling needs,” Alan DeSousa, the Saint-Laurent borough mayor, told Global News.
He says it’s too early to determine if there have been any cost savings in utility expenses with the new modules; a complete review of the solar system will be conducted at the end of the year.
DeSousa adds that the panels will become a permanent fixture and they’re the latest initiative in the borough’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and reduce its carbon footprint.
“We wanted to diversify our source of electricity and not have all of our eggs in one basket,” he said.
DeSousa says there are plans to expand the solar energy system to other parts of the borough and he says a couple of private companies in the industrial park are planning to add panels to their buildings as well.
Simons has already added solar panels to at least two of its department stores, in Quebec City and Edmonton, as the department store strives to generate as much energy as it consumes.
The federal government offers subsidies of up to $5,000 in its Canada Greener Homes Grant program for homeowners willing to install solar panels on their properties.
Quebec doesn’t offer a similar program but Hydro-Québec has opened two solar farms capable of generating enough energy to power almost 1,000 homes.
“Solar power is a great idea in Quebec. It’s quite complementary to hydroelectricity that we have,” Patrick Bonin, the climate and energy campaigner at Greenpeace Canada, said.
The owner of one solar panel installation company in Quebec says commercial and residential sales have dramatically increased for solar modules this year.
“We have seen exponential growth,” Bartek Wlodarczak, the founder of Quebec Solar Solutions, told Global News.
DeSousa is just hoping more sunny days ahead means more money in the bank for his borough.