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Village of Stirling a hotspot for solar energy

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Village of Stirling a hot spot for solar energy
The Village of Stirling, just south of Lethbridge, says it is the first net-zero village in Canada. The municipality’s solar journey started in 2018, and now the community is reaping the financial benefits. Quinn Campbell reports – Jan 31, 2023

The Village of Stirling is home to roughly 1,200 residents — a small community setting a big example with its use of solar energy.

Mayor Trevor Lewington said before going solar the village spent roughly $30,000 a year running public infrastructure, such as the village office and street lights, but now they’re making money — almost $8,000 in 2022.

“Rather than an expense we now have a revenue stream, so that’s $40,000 a year we can invest in things like our volunteer fire department, or the pool, or parks, so for us, it was a no-brainer.”

Jim Seely owns an installation company called Solar Seeker. He added that green energy source is growing in popularity.

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“As electrical prices go up, everybody is wanting to know more about it,” Seely said.

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He added there are government grants and incentives to help people make the transition, and it doesn’t take long to have the system paid for.

“On an average house, if you can make yourself net-zero, your return is about seven to eight years.”

Some residents in Stirling are following the village’s lead and installing their own panels to cut costs.

“We’ll probably not pay any electrical bill this year,” said resident John Ellingson. He installed his panels in 2021 and said the initial cost was worth it.

“We have a 4.8-kilowatt system, so that’s 4,800 Watts and it cost us about $12,000 to get into it. Now there’s a government grant and they’ll pay up to $5,000.”

The village has even created its own energy marketer called Ridge Utilities which serves southern Albertans.

“We are able to obtain higher market rates in the summer, for example, when we are exporting more than we can consume and we can drop those rates back down when we are consuming more than we generate,” Lewington said. “So we are able to do a bit of price arbitrage to maximize our revenue stream.”

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