The Town of Yarmouth understands the importance of investing in green energy. As part of its climate change action strategy, solar panels have been erected on the roofs of two buildings, with another installation on the way in 2020.
This investment not only generates clean energy but also upgrades town infrastructure and creates a new revenue stream.
The first group of panels found a home at the Yarmouth County Solid Waste Park while the second were recently installed on the public works building at 227 Pleasant Street. The cost to install the panels was funded using federal gas tax dollars. A third project is planned for installation at the Anthony Pavilion at Mariners Centre. That installation is awaiting final approval from Nova Scotia Power.
The project first came to life in 2017 when the province developed a program called the “Solar Electricity for Community Buildings Program”. The aim was to support community participation in renewable energy generation and increase awareness for the role solar electricity could play in Nova Scotia’s future energy mix. Participation in the program resulted from a joint effort between the Town of Yarmouth and members of the Green Energy Committee (GEC) – a partnership between the Town of Yarmouth, the Municipality of Yarmouth, and the Municipality of Argyle.
The Town and GEC engaged the Alternative Resource Energy Authority to develop local projects and submit competitive bids into the program. The technical partner selected to help develop the projects and bids was Thermodynamics of Dartmouth. A successful bid was submitted, and the town won the right to sell the solar energy generated by this project to Nova Scotia Power (NSPI) for 20-years.
As Mayor Pam Mood sees it, the solar panels are a sound investment and show the town’s commitment toward converting to cleaner energy wherever possible.
“This is a positive use of gas tax as it delivers green energy directly to Nova Scotia Power,” said Mood. “We’re adding valuable assets to these buildings, improving our infrastructure, and getting a return on investment for many years to come.”
Further addressing green energy and climate issues, the town’s engineering department is participating in the “Municipalities for Climate Innovation Program” (MCIP). The program was created by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities and focuses on building sustainable and reliable services in communities while tackling climate change and its effects. It specifically helps towns like Yarmouth with climate change adaptation through improved infrastructure, lowering greenhouse gas emissions, and helping integrate climate considerations into asset management practices.
Project Engineer DeMario Dunkley heads up the MCIP program and says the solar panels gave him a head start with a fitting project that was already in motion.
“A requirement of the MCIP project is that we undertake preparatory work to implement climate mitigation projects over the two-year grant period. Fortunately, the town has always been proactive. Rather than wait for two years to go live on a project, I was able to walk into the solar panel installation already underway. With more projects going live in 2020, it puts this department and the Town of Yarmouth ahead of the curve.”
Aaron Long is the Director of Business Services for Alternative Resource Energy Authority. As he explains, the projects will benefit the town today and down the road.
“The sale of the energy from the panels comes at a price that generates a good annual profit for the town,” he said. “Most of the equipment is expected to last well beyond 20 years, so the town can use that renewable energy directly at the public works building after the NSPI arrangement ends.”
GEC Chair Neil Mackenzie said, “As Chair of the GEC I am very pleased to see multiple solar projects developed throughout our region. This is the direction municipalities should take, and working together only makes sense.”
About the Solar Electricity for Community Buildings Pilot Program
The Solar for Community Buildings Program enables eligible community groups and organizations to generate up to 75kW of solar photovoltaic (PV) electricity on their roofs or properties and sell it to their utility under a 20-year contract. The program aimed to:
• support community participation in renewable energy generation
• learn more about how solar electricity can help Nova Scotia continue its clean energy transition
This pilot program was run by the Nova Scotia Department of Energy and Mines in partnership with Clean Nova Scotia. The program has closed. For more, visit: https://novascotia.ca/solar/solar-electricity-community-buildings.asp
About the Municipalities for Climate Innovation Program (MCIP)
For complete details on the Municipalities for Climate Innovation Program (MCIP), please visit: https://fcm.ca/en/programs/municipalities-climate-innovation-program