Enhanced photo showing Rec Complex with solar panels installed
The Selkirk Rec Complex will soon be soaking up the sun and driving down the city’s energy bill and its carbon footprint in one fell swoop.
Solar panels are being installed at the Rec Complex and once activated the building will be one of the largest solar powered in Manitoba.
Selkirk Mayor Larry Johannson said being good environmental citizens is important and the city is glad to do what it can to become greener. Geothermal heating was installed when the Rec Complex was built in 1985 and the solar panels will help take us even further off the grid.
“Taking advantage of natural resources to heat our buildings, to power places like the Rec Complex, which is such a huge building, makes a lot of sense,” Johannson said.
“By installing solar panels we’ll be more kind to the environment, which I’m a huge fan of, and we’ll be saving taxpayers’ dollars at the same time, so it’s a win-win situation, and we’re glad to be on board.”
The solar panels will cost the city $437,000 after a $200,000 Manitoba Hydro grant is factored in. Dan McDermid, Director of Operations, said he estimates the solar panels will save the city roughly 16 per cent in energy costs.
“The Rec Complex is a very large user of power because of the building that it is,” McDermid said.
“We make ice for about eight months out of the year, it’s a big building, it has a banquet hall, it’s got a lot of stuff going on in it, so it makes sense to try to supplement the power.”
The panels will occupy most of the south-facing roof, the ideal direction for solar panels to face for optimum exposure to the sun’s rays.
“We’re reducing our greenhouse gas emissions, we’re using a renewable energy source and reducing our reliance on Manitoba Hydro at a time when their rates are going up,” McDermid said.
The life expectancy of the solar panels is about 30 years and the city expects that they will pay for themselves in 17 years, which means there’s 13 years of revenue generating gained from the addition of solar power. The pay-back period may be shorter if Manitoba Hydro’s rates continue to climb.
Selkirk forward thinking
Sycamore Energy Inc., is doing the install and CEO and co-founder Justin Phillips said he believes the rec complex is the largest rooftop installation in the Province of Manitoba and largest by a municipality. He commended the city for being “forward thinking”.
“Just the fact the City of Selkirk is taking the initiative to install this kind of technology, it’s not a small investment…so taking that initiative is encouraging,” Phillips said.
“The 200-kilowatt installation, it’s humongous. We’ve done other installs and that’s enough to power entire farms.”
The savings from solar power are substantial, Phillips said, citing the Levelized Cost of Electricity (LCE) per kilowatt with solar at about 4.5 to 5.5 cents compared with about 8 cents for Hydro.
Solar panels align with the city’s Strategic Plan Priority 3 – safe and sustainable infrastructure by providing adequate funding for maintenance of all city-owned assets; it also aligns with Priority 4 – maximum value from community resources through more active management of capital assets and continued improvements in efficiency. Priority 5 is environmental stewardship, and solar panels protect natural features and resources.
The panels should be operational early in 2019.