Sparwood, B.C., shifts from coal town to solar hotspot
Author — Julia Kilpatrick
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The town of Sparwood, B.C. is known for its Rocky Mountain lifestyle, its humble roots—and the 350-tonne 1974 Titan truck that looms as a symbol of the region’s mining past.

But the town is now home to another eye-catching symbol: 44 new solar panels, installed on the Town Hall and Leisure Centre in spring 2017 through a partnership with Solar Now.

Sparwood Solar Now Installation

Sparwood’s mayor, Cal McDougall, and head of planning, Nelson Wight, hold up a solar panel in front of the new Solar Now installation on the Town Hall, in April 2017.

Solar Now in Sparwood

The District of Sparwood is a municipality in the Kootenay region of British Columbia with a population of nearly 3,800 residents, many of whom have ties to the region’s mining and forestry heritage. A key part of the community’s vision, as articulated in the Official Community Plan, is to “be a caring, neighborly and sustainable community with pride in our natural environment.” It is located along the Crowsnest Highway (#3), a route that sees significant numbers of tourists travelling between Alberta and the Pacific Coast.

Following a solar site analysis and energy production modeling estimates, the District of Sparwood is tapping into the region’s excellent solar resources to generate clean, renewable electricity. The community has installed solar PV panel systems on the Town Hall (26 panels) and Leisure Centre (18 panels), for a combined system size of just under 12 kilowatts. Over the next 25 years the systems will produce over 300,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity—worth $36,000 at current rates. While the system cost $52,500 in total, Sparwood’s investment of $27,500 essentially inflation-proofs the cost of energy produced, and fixes the rate at approximately 10 cents a kilowatt-hour for the life of the system.

The solar panel installations are aligned with the goals and objectives of the community’s current Official Community Plan, its Corporate Strategic Plan, and a specific action within its 2013 Community Energy and Emissions Plan of “leveraging local government assets into community change.” The Solar Now projects were made possible through Sparwood’s Carbon Neutral Reserve funds and support from the North Growth Foundation.

CBC Radio player - Radio West

Listen as Solar Now Project Director Bill Swan speaks with CBC Radio’s Josh Pagé about the Solar Now installations in Sparwood, B.C. on the July 27, 2017 edition of Radio West. (Starts at the 4:12 mark.) 

About Solar Now

Solar Now seeks to engage Canadians in the global shift to renewable energy by creating opportunities for people to see and experience solar power first-hand. Through the program, solar electricity systems will be installed on prominent public sites in communities across British Columbia, including municipal buildings, schools, libraries, community centres and electric vehicle charging stations.

Clean Energy Canada, based at the Centre for Dialogue at Simon Fraser University, is a founding partner in Solar Now. The initiative is also made possible through the support of sponsors including the North Growth Foundation, Bullfrog Power, the Great Climate Race, and the Community Energy Association. Learn more about Solar Now.

Learn More

You can monitor the amount of renewable electricity being generated by the systems online at:

https://monitoringpublic.solaredge.com/solaredge-web/p/kiosk?guid=3455eef7-8d6c-4263-a2c6-8c154ff5baf6

https://monitoringpublic.solaredge.com/solaredge-web/p/kiosk?guid=bbb98cb5-4ba9-47e1-80d6-b9ef482224ad

 

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