Black Diamond all about going green
By: Tammy Rollie
| Posted: Wednesday, Mar 06, 2013 10:38 am
Black Diamond is one step closer to being green after installing a solar system on a second town building recently.
The Town invited the public to celebrate the installation of a $32,000 reflect solar system, funded by the Municipal Sustainability Initiative, on its municipal building at a public information session on Feb. 26. The system is expected to produce 20 per cent of the building’s electricity and pay for itself in 10 to 15 years, depending on the price of electricity, according to Mayor Sharlene Brown.
The project falls on the heels of two solar systems installed on the roof of the Oilfields Regional Arena, the first in 2006 and the second in 2011. In January the two systems generated enough energy to operate 16 homes for one day, said Brown.
Brown kicked off the public session by flipping of the switch to the new five-kilowatt reflective solar system on the Municipal Building. The mayor is taking it a step further with plans to purchase a system for her own home.
“I’m a firm believer in alternative energy and a transition to a green economy, therefore, it’s a good experience for me and my family to be able to support this kind of initiative,” she said. “It makes it an affordable way for individuals to get involved with this alternative energy program.”
Brown said she hopes other residents will purchase solar systems for their homes following last week’s meeting.
“It’s great for our community and it’s great for our environment,” she said. “I think it would be really cool if lots of people in the community embraced this whole concept. It reduces our own individual carbon footprints.”
What is making solar systems more attractive is an initiative called Light Up Alberta, which offers small solar producers 15 cents per kilowatt hour for the solar electricity they export to the grid in Alberta.
Black Diamond resident James Lee purchased an adjustable solar system consisting of eight panels for his home about three weeks ago to not only become more self-sufficient but to reduce his reliance on coal-fired electricity.
Lee said he made his purchase at the perfect time.
“The prices are down because there is a glut of solar stuff on the market,” he said.
Goose Creek Renewable Energy president Rick Dunsmore shared information with residents about the solar systems his business sells, responding to more than half a dozen inquiries from residents interested in making purchases. The Blackie-based company has partnered with Black Diamond and Turner Valley to offer lower rates to the Town and its residents for their renewable energy services and products.
Dunsmore said the cost of purchasing solar systems has come down as much as 70 per cent and many people will see a return on their investment in about 10 years.
The other benefit to purchasing solar panels is it increases the value of one’s homes, said Dunsmore.