Red Deer developing solar plans for water treatment plant

Alberta Municipal Solar Program

Municipal and provincial officials recognized the success of the Alberta Municipal Solar Program on Thursday at an event near Didsbury. (Photo contributed)

Red Deer plans to apply for the province’s municipal solar rebate program once a plan for its water treatment plant is complete and approved by council.

On Thursday the province recognized the work of 18 municipalities that received almost $2 million in rebates from the three-year Alberta Municipal Solar Program that was launched a year ago.

The $5-million program, run by the Municipal Climate Change Action Centre, has so far offset solar installation costs for 28 projects that will save municipalities a combined $391,600 on power bills annually.

Kelly Kloss, the city’s director of development services, said a solar plan for the water treatment plant will be included in the 2018 budget for council’s approval.

He said the city wants to learn lessons from others and what has worked well.

“We want to make sure that what we put in works not just in the short term, but long term too,” Kloss said.

“In a lot of ways, just as many municipalities, we’re beginning the whole process of investigating what’s best and how it applies to the city and what we can do.”

Solar will also be considered as the city updates its Environmental Master Plan, he said.

The city has already embarked on some smaller solar projects. About two years ago the three storm water monitoring stations were equipped with solar power, and the new pedestrian crosswalks have solar powered pedestrian-activated amber lights.

Coun. Buck Buchanan said he’d like the city to find out if solar would work at the downtown Sorensen Station.

“They say (Alberta) is comparable to some of the southern States when it comes to the amount of sunlight we do get,” said Buchanan who represented Alberta Urban Municipalities Association at a provincial event at Mountain View County’s office near Didsbury on Thursday to recognize successful municipal solar projects.

He was also impressed to learn that the solar project at Mountain View County’s agricultural services centre, that received $34,000 in solar funding, actually exceeded estimated benefits by producing more than 13,000 kilowatt hours per year.

Minister of Environment and Parks Shannon Phillips said Municipal Solar Program projects so far supported 60 jobs during a difficult economy.

“It also means that air quality and Albertans’ health will improve as we prevent 62,000 tonnes of green house gas emissions from polluting the air. That’s the same as taking 13,000 cars off the road,” Phillips said.

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