MAPLETON – Council here is considering installing solar panels at four township buildings to reduce the municipality’s energy cost having received a presentation from QPA Solar Inc. for information on Oct. 22.
QPA Solar reviewed the township’s hydro bills from Hydro One and QPA Solar board director Marjan Stosic told council installing solar panels at the PMD Arena, the wastewater facility, Drayton firehall and the township office could save the municipality $3.3 million over the next 25 years.
Based on QPA’s calculations, the township pays a total of $157,800 over a 12 month period, $90,000 at the arena and just less than $28,000 on the township office, almost $27,000 on the sewage lagoon and about $15, 400 at the fire hall.
Currently the township pays 19.4 cents per kilowatt hour used at the PMD arena, 15.8 cents at the township office, 16.8 at the water and wastewater treatment plant and 15.3 cents at the Drayton firehall.
“Please do not ask me why that is, it’s just one of those mysteries. How does Hydro One do their pricing? Beats the hell out of us,” Stosic told council.
Stosic provided a range of estimates of inflation from a ‘conservative’ three per cent per year over the next 25 years, the township would pay 37 cents per kilowatt-hour to the aggressive prediction of 55 cents.
Installing solar panels at all four of the locations would drop the hydro costs to 10 cents per kilwatt-hour and it would remain at that price regardless of inflation.
Net savings $3.3 million
“Your net savings would be $3.3 million, your internal rate of return is 9.4% and your payback is around 10 years and the net value of that decision would be $1.3 million,” said Stosic.
If council decided not to outfit all four buildings, Stosic said the company recommends the council could start with solar panels on the PMD arena, “because it’s a big enough facility by itself.”
Following the presentation councillor Marlene Ottens asked whether the solar power would go into the grid or if it would be a direct benefit to the owner of the system.
“It’s net meter when we looked at your sites we right sized them. Power wise that’s the size because it goes through the, if you over-produce, it will go back to the grid and you are giving it for free? So the systems have been right sized for your load to what you use,” said Stosic.
Ottens also voiced concerns over fire safety.
“Most of our firefighters have taken courses on buildings with solar panels,” said Fire Chief Rick Richardson but he reinforced that there is a concern because solar panels are live.
“Rapid shut down has become requirements, main disconnects have become the requirements,” said Stosic.
“Did you do an analysis of the structural capabilities of the buildings to see if they can support the solar,” asked councillor Paul Douglas.
Stosic said the structural engineer analysis is part of the project which would be done if the council approved the project.
Douglas also asked about the efficiency of winter use.
“It’s 12 months of rolling credits, so in June they are producing a lot, you are over-producing and you get credit for that and in January you are producing very little so you are paying for that rolling 12 credit,” said Stosic.
Councillor Michael Martin voiced his support for the idea.
“I think it’s a fascinating idea and the project is certainly one I would be willing to take a look at a little closer in the new year once we have a better sense of our water and wastewater stuff that we are working on,” he said.
Mayor Gregg Davidson agreed saying, “It is a project that would have to be budgeted for, but the long term savings certainly outweigh the short term payout.”
QPA Solar is full service company that has provided engineering, installation, construction, operation and maintenance of solar panels since 2009.
Among the options for the project provided to council were:
– the company could build and install the solar panels for the township to own;
– the company could build, install, own and maintain, selling the energy to the township; or
– the company could participate in a joint venture with the township.