‘We’re part of the an­swer’

Cen­tre­lea group ex­plores 20-year so­lar en­ergy fundraiser for com­mu­nity hall

Annapolis Valley Register - - NEWS - BY LAWRENCE POW­ELL THE SPEC­TA­TOR CEN­TRE­LEA

The Cen­tre­lea Com­mu­nity Hall could be pro­duc­ing up to 25 kilo­watts of clean, so­lar en­ergy in the near fu­ture and reap­ing the fi­nan­cial ben­e­fits from Nova Sco­tia Power.

The com­mu­nity hall as­so­ci­a­tion has been ap­proved through the pro­vin­cial So­lar Elec­tric­ity for Com­mu­nity Build­ings Pro­gram and has the op­tion of de­vel­op­ing a so­lar ar­ray that would bring in 25 cents per kilo­watt hour for the next 20 years.

The group has se­cured preap­proval for fi­nanc­ing for the $53,000 project that could bring in as much as $6,700 a year for en­ergy pro­duced. The hitch is that they would be in the red about $700 a year for the first 10 years.

Res­i­dents at a com­mu­nity in­for­ma­tion meet­ing at the hall Oct. 3 seemed to ap­prove the project in gen­eral but hoped to be able to knock down the cap­i­tal cost through grants from var­i­ous sources in­clud­ing the County of An­napo­lis and the fed­eral gov­ern- ment’s New Hori­zons pro­gram.

Bill Cross­man, who is lead­ing the project, said an­nual rev­enue from the project would be about equal to debt ser­vic­ing each year for the 10-year life of the loan. On top of that, an­nual main­te­nance would cost about $500. In the end, they could be fac­ing an an­nual loss of $700 for the life of the loan. Af­ter the loan is paid off the hall would stand to make a sub­stan­tial profit ev­ery year.

“Es­sen­tially what I’m talk­ing to the group about tonight is our strat­egy go­ing for­ward,” he said. “The rea­son I put in for 25 cents a kilo­watt hour was I knew it would be like this but as a non-profit group we’re in a po­si­tion to get other grants and con­tri­bu­tions from fund­ing groups. So we can knock down the loan at any time with what­ever new grants we find along the way.”

Cross­man said the pro­gram al­lows them two years to ac­tu­ally put the ar­ray in place. They could also back out of the project if they want.

“What we’ll be talk­ing about tonight is whether or not we want to just say ‘OK, we’ll wait now ‘til spring.’ We have some ap­pli­ca­tions out there for grants now. We’re wait­ing on those now to make their de­ci­sions. If we can knock the cap­i­tal costs back to the point where we get some sort of com­fort­able amount of rev­enue be­yond what we need to pay for the loan month to month, then we’ll go ahead.”

Cross­man said the mo­ti­va­tion for pur­su­ing such a project was twofold.

“We wanted to be able to say that the hall did some­thing in the fight against cli­mate change,” Cross­man said. “So here we are, mostly se­niors, say­ing ‘OK, can we make a con­tri­bu­tion some­how?’ And this is one way we can do it. We’re part of the an­swer as op­posed to the prob­lem.”

The other more prac­ti­cal thing is that this guar­an­tees a cash­flow for 20 years for the hall, he said.

“Ev­ery year we go through fundrais­ers try­ing to keep the doors open, keep lights on, keep the heat go­ing, but now we would have $6,000 a year com­ing in for 20 years to the hall. So that’s a sub­stan­tial piece of se­cu­rity for the hall.”

Cross­man said at the meet­ing, the ar­ray would con­sist of 81 pan­els at 330 watts each, to­tal­ing roughly 25 kilo­watts at peak sun con­di­tions. The pan­els they would be buy­ing are guar­an­teed for 20 years, the same length of time as the agree­ment with Nova Sco­tia Power. With the racks on the ground, as op­posed to the roof, main­te­nance would be easy.

“I think it’s in tune with what’s go­ing on and the way we have to go,” said lo­cal res­i­dent Blair Han­nam, who at­tended the meet­ing. “If ev­ery­body could start think­ing this way and had a place and a group who could do this, it would even­tu­ally help the whole sit­u­a­tion.”

Like Cross­man, he was re­fer­ring to help­ing the en­vi­ron­ment and the hall.

“We’ve got to start think­ing for the fu­ture. This is part of it,” Han­nam said. “So­lar as op­posed to wind en­ergy is af­ford­able. You don’t have to have a mil­lion dol­lars like you do to build a wind­mill, but if you can put up this amount, and it’s af­ford­able, and we have the place for it, it’s cer­tainly worth pur­su­ing.”

In the mean­time, the com­mu­nity hall group will wait on news from grant ap­pli­ca­tions.

“We wanted to be able to say that the hall did some­thing in the fight against cli­mate change.” — project lead Bill Cross­man

LAWRENCE POW­ELL

Bill Cross­man heads up a so­lar elec­tric­ity project that could see the Cen­tre­lea Com­mu­nity Hall pro­duc­ing 25 kilo­watts of elec­tric­ity and get­ting paid for it by Nova Sco­tia Power. If they knock down the $53,000 cap­i­tal cost through grants, they could be mak­ing a profit right from the start.

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