Banff, AB - The last panels were installed on the roof at Banff Town Hall on Friday and by Monday morning, the town's new solar photovoltaic system was generating power.
The most extensive photovoltaic panel installation in the Bow Valley to date, the project is not only designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions generated by municipal operations, but inspire local businesses and residents to consider converting their own electricity source from coal-generated (Alberta grid's main source), to solar-generated right from their own roof.
Banff experiences an average of 15 hours of daylight in summer and over 9 hours in winter; a solar photovoltaic system has no minimum requirement of hours to work, and will generate power even on cloudy days, as long as the panels are not shaded by trees or other structures.
"Reducing greenhouse gas emissions and energy consumption are Community Plan objectives, as are environmental education opportunities for residents" said Chad Townsend, the town's environmental coordinator. "We estimate that we will save about 11 tonnes in C02 emissions per year, compared to electricity generated by fossil fuels in Alberta." The panels are expected to generate about 17,109 kilowatts per year, which would fully power at least three Banff households a year.
The Town will receive a monthly utility bill with the amount of power generated subtracted from the amount of power used. "In a typical household, solar panels pay for themselves after about 10 years," says Townsend, "but with a lifespan of at least 20 years, solar is a very worthwhile investment, especially as fossil fuel (coal, oil, gas) grows increasingly more expensive. The real savings, however, is to the environment."
Part of the installation is a monitor in the lobby of Town Hall, which will display real-time readings of electricity generated, equivalent uses, and emissions saved.
Says Mayor Karen Sorensen: We have an obligation as a national park community to be a model in environmental management. We value our beautiful Rocky Mountain environment and we will do what we should to preserve it for future generations.
The total project cost, including all equipment, installation and permits, is $53,000, funded through the Fortis municipal rate rider on electricity.
Solar photovoltaic panels were also installed on the Wolf Street washroom when it was rebuilt in 2011. The power generated is indirectly running the lighting by feeding approximately 3000 kilowatts into the grid each year.