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Blackfalds awards contract for Solar PV project

 Ashli Barrett/Lacombe Globe

The Town of Blackfalds has taken another step towards becoming a greener and more energy efficient community.

At their regular meeting on Tuesday evening, town council awarded the contract for solar photovoltaic (PV) panels to be installed on the Abbey Centre.

The project wasn’t originally planned to go ahead in 2017, however, upon solar grants becoming available, council made the decision to proceed at their Jan. 24 meeting. Request for

A total of 10 different proposals had been sent in for the project, with two disqualified based on price. Ultimately, NuEnergy Systems was deemed to best fit the municipality’s criteria.

While the company didn’t have the same experience that other companies had, SkyFire Energy COO David Vonesch, who was involved in the feasibility study and is now acting in a consultant role, said he was confident NuEnergy would provide the quality of work the town is looking for.

“NuEnergy had the best price by a significant margin. Perhaps they don’t have the large-scale experience that some of the other proponents had, they are still a larger company and I have no doubts whatsoever in their ability to fill this project,” Vonesch said.

“I think it’s a really strong proposal NuEnergy put forward.”

The system is a 220-kilowatt system, which using LG 360-watt high efficiency modules, meaning there will be more on the building than originally proposed. As a result, 20 modules will be placed on the southeast portion of the building.

“I think it fits in nicely with the architecture of the building. It’s flush mounted, and it’s also a visible element,” he said. “It provides great visibility as far as environmental leadership in the community and good addition to the facility in reducing long-term operating costs.”

The contract for the design, supply and installation of the panels will cost $396,000, exclusive of GST with an Alberta Municipal Solar Plan funding rebate of $99,000.

The funding for the project will come out of the 2017 General Capital Reserves.

The project will lock in energy costs at around 4.6 cents per kilowatt hour.

Previously, council also considered putting solar panels on top of the Blackfalds Multi-Plex and Civic Centre, however, the feasibility study showed that repair work would have to be done to the building and roofing in order to install panels for the long term.

-Election signage-

Approval was given to the locations permitted for election signage for the 2017 municipal election in October.

Council briefly discussed the topic at their last council meeting, expressing safety concerns over placing signage on the roundabout. Changes were made to the map showing locations to explicitly prohibiting election signs from being placed on any highway rows.

As well, permissible locations were extended to include green spaces on either side of Vista Trail and near the dog park at the South St. and Leung Rd. intersection, and on Hwy 2A on the west side of C&E Trail and along Cottonwood Dr.

A detailed map of the locations will be part of election packages expected to be available in upcoming weeks.

-Citizen Budget-

Blackfalds will once again be giving residents a chance to have their say in how their tax dollars are being spent through Citizen Budget.

The program was introduced last year, providing residents an interactive opportunity to see how increasing funding for various services and departments would affect their tax rates. About 10 different questions were asked during last year’s Citizen Budget survey, with results factoring in to budget deliberations.

Council plans to bring back program, with the addition of an education component to help residents learn more about the community, budget process and municipal departments.

A module must be purchased by the municipality on an annual basis, and will cost $1,750. Funding was included in the 2017 Information Systems software budget.

The Citizen Budget survey is expected to run September 1-30, 2017.

-Public Works Week-

Council made the decision to proclaim May 21-27 as Public Works Week in Blackfalds.

The week is recognized nationally, and routinely proclaimed in the town to recognize the contributions which public works officials make in improving and maintaining quality of life.

The next regular council meeting will be held on Tuesday, May 23 at 7 p.m. in council chambers. 

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