Council has once again voted against joining the Alberta Municipal Solar Program (AMSP). The option was brought before Council at the last regular meeting on Dec. 11.
Council defeating the motion to join the program has nothing to do with being environmental friendly or not, according o Coun. Jas Payne it has everything to do with cost.
“The cost [and rebates] isn’t a benefit right now,” explained Payne.
The program is offering rebates for the installation of solar panels, depending on the solar capacity of the panels.
It was recommended the solar panels be used at the Municipal Operations Building, for an amount not to exceed $35,000 for the installation and the panels.
The estimated payback period for the solar panels would be 17.5 years, based on the rebates, initial costs and deferral of power consumption.
Coun. Megan Chernoff Hanson agreed with Payne, saying the payback period is much higher than expected.
“The idea is great, but our money can be put to better use bettering our environment right now,” said Hanson.
Another issue facing the solar program is the technology behind it. According to Payne, who has done research into the subject, the solar technology isn’t at a point right now where it makes sense for Council to invest.
While solar panels have made vast improvements over the past 10 years or so, Payne says there is still more that needs to be done, before he will be willing to agree to the program.
“[Solar power] is still in its infancy… The technology isn’t there yet, in 10 years it will be,” said Payne.
Council agreed while now is not the time to sign up for the program, it isn’t opposed to looking into the AMSP again in the future.
Director of Planning and Development Ken Kalirai says in the future pricing may change which could help Council make their decision.
“It doesn’t have to be decided on right now. Council may hold off for a few years and there is a chance it’ll get cheaper,” Kalirai explained.
In the meantime, Council and administration will be looking at other options to go green. This could include using LED lightbulbs in the Municipal Operations Building. According to Betty Osmond, chief administrative officer, these options will be looked at for the building during an upcoming renovations review.
“This program is supported by Alberta Urban Municipalities Association (AUMA),” said Osmond. “The idea is you have to start somewhere.”