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Summerside energy plan for Credit Union Place is sound in the long-term


This week Summerside city council delivered its annual budget – one the mayor described as “tough.”

And tough it must have been to come up with a balanced budget with so many demands on the city purse, besides all the regular expenses of operating a municipality.

One of the biggest line items under new spending for the city’s utilities was actually hidden within the $4.6 million earmarked for “electric infrastructure and equipment.” A sum of $1.5 million was put aside within this $4.6 million for the city’s share of a $3-million solar panel farm for Credit Union Place.

It takes a lot of power to operate a large complex like Credit Union Place – an average of $382,000 worth of electricity a year. That’s a big bill.

Even though $1.5 million is a sizable investment, it may be worth it, considering the savings involved. The solar farm project is estimated will save the CUP $105,000 a year, or 28 per cent of the electricity it currently uses.

In addition to the cost savings, the solar farm will lessen the city’s carbon footprint as it continues to implement renewable energy initiatives and reduce the use of fossil fuels to power the city. That’s being innovative and forward thinking.

This solar farm is not just a field of solar panels. It will be groundbreaking technology that has never been tested anywhere else. If this new solar and battery storage system works the way it is designed to, it will be invaluable technology that can be put to use in other locales, especially remote areas, like Canada’s north.

A partner, that has so far remained mysterious, is being brought in to carry out this ambitious project. Even though he remained rather coy on the subject of the partner, Summerside Mayor Bill Martin hinted at further investment in this kind of technology in future, noting that this CUP solar farm is actually just one phase of a three-part project.

The project demonstrates that Summerside is environmentally conscious and sends out the right message. Combined with the city’s wind farm, this new solar project means that within the next three to four years, as much as 70 per cent of the city’s energy could be green sourced.

That is worth $1.5 million.

It’s also worth the loss of 10 or so parking spaces at the sports and entertainment complex where this series of solar panels will be erected. As many as 1,300 panels will be set up in the parking lot off Greenwood Drive, between Willow Avenue and Bob Dewar Street.

Perhaps in the not-too-distant future, city officials can brag to the world that the municipality is 100 per cent powered by renewable energy.

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