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Banff invests in more solar power

BANFF – The Town of Banff is hoping to put solar panels on the roof of the waste transfer building.

Banff council authorized spending up to $100,000 from the environmental reserve, but it’s conditional on getting $50,000 from Alberta’s municipal solar program to fully fund the project.

Town officials say the solar photovoltaic array would generate about 40 per cent of the energy needed for bailers, conveyors, lightning and all other power requirements of the building.

“That’s actually by far the most of any array we’ve built so far,” said Michael Hay, a community energy advisor.

“Compare that to the Fenlands, which is very, very large but actually only produces about 17 per cent of the arena’s energy. The Fenlands consumes an enormous amount of energy to produce ice.”

In the last nine years, the Town of Banff has installed solar photovoltaic systems on five municipal buildings to reduce the municipality’s greenhouse gas emissions and reduce costs to residents.

This project for the waste transfer building involves an 80 kW solar system – the second largest in Banff after the Fenlands recreation centre, which had a 280 kW rooftop system installed in 2017.

Due to the high-energy production for the waste transfer site, Hay said this array would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 50 tonnes per year.

In addition, he said an investment of about $150,000 for the project would be recovered through $6,000 in savings each year due to lower power costs.

“It’s about six cents per kW hour, which is actually less than the Town pays for electricity under its current contract,” Hay said.

“You can think of this solar array project as basically buying a bunch of cheap renewable energy in bulk, and then never having to pay for it for the next 30 years.”

Banff’s environmental master plan aspires to use energy more efficiently and derive that energy primarily from renewable sources.

Councillor Chip Olver welcomed this project.

“I really like these numbers. Forty per cent of the site’s annual electricity demand is fabulous,” she said.

The Bow Valley Waste Management Commission owns the waste transfer station, but all equipment associated with the proposed solar array will remain the property of the Town of Banff.

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