The roof of the arena has been fitted with 447 solar modules as part of the new Eckville Arena Solar Project.
CBI Solar, a subsidiary company of local Watts Projects Inc., is in charge of installation and has been employing people in the Eckville area since 1996.
“It was kind of nice that we were the company who got to do it,” said Remi Watts, construction manager, in a recent phone interview.
On the crew Watts is joined by fellow Eckville-native Wes Moos, Josh Smith from Lacombe and Sylvan Laker Luke Pasishnik.
“It’s neat getting to go to basically the highest point in a person’s hometown and stare around it, Watts said.
Watts says the project is going “exceptionally well” even with the smaller crew on the roof to maintain distancing.
They had budgeted about two months to do the project and it is currently running ahead of schedule.
The last modules, or panels, were set to be laid on May 25 with the electrical finalized a few days late and the inspection will likely be done within a week or two of completion.
Along the arena roof is 447 water-proof modules, which at 385 Watts per panel, will translate into a total 172.1 kiloWatts of power.
Watts added the units will have minimal impact on the roof of the arena, which was recently re-shingled.
The modules then feed the inverter which feeds directly back to the utility grid itself, said Watts while breaking the process down simply.
“One of the misconceptions about solar is during the summer months nobody will be in the arena, the ice won’t be in, it won’t be using a lot of power, but what will be happening is the solar will be generating a significant amount of credit to their bill that then if the system doesn’t produce a lot in the winter time you eat that credit in the winter time,” he explained.
Additionally, the solar modules will save the arena money cutting their power bill and reducing operational expenses.
He says other towns that have had similar systems put in have decreased their taxes in response to the savings, but whether or not the Town of Eckville will be able to isn’t up to them.
“In terms of revenue we don’t exactly know what it’ll bring in, I don’t know what their usages will be moving forward,” Watts said, “but the case study that could be referred to is we did the Town of Penhold last year and they’re seeing a credit of between six and $7,000 a month for their system.”
The Town of Penhold has since decided to lower taxes two per cent because of the drop of operational costs, Watts continued.
“It’s local guys, a local crew, local company saving the town money. Simple as that,” Watts said.
CBI Solar has done several projects in the Central Alberta and Eckville area including Sylvan Star Cheese Ltd. as well as a smaller system on the Benalto train station not too long ago.