Solar panels to heat up city's energy-efficiency drive

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Solar panels are to be installed at city hall as part of council's quest to become more energy efficient.

Councillors recently gave staff approval to award a contract worth more than $120,000 to Carmanah Technologies Corp. to conduct a solar photovoltaic project at city hall. The project will see the solar power collected sold to the Ontario Energy Board over the next 20 years for 42 cents a kilowatt hour.

"It acknowledges that solar power is on the horizon," said Mayor Vic Fedeli, noting the project is more about exploring and learning about alternative energy sources, rather than generating a profit.

A joint project between the city and North Bay Hydro, the solar system will be capable of generating up to 13,176 kilowatt hours annually, generating as much as $5,500 each year. The hydro utility is kicking in $50,000 and the city will dip into a reserve fund consisting of hydro investment income to provide the balance. The project is expected to be in operation by May 1.

Fedeli acknowledged that it will take several years to recover the initial investment. But he said the project is part of the city's efforts to become more energy efficient, including a methane-collection initiative at the landfill site and an unsuccessful attempted to establish a wind farm.

"The testing showed that we did not have a consistent enough supply of wind," said Fedeli, noting the city invested about $100,000 two years ago to determine the feasibility.