Electric with energy Hazlet connects wind turbine to rink
A village in southwest Saskatchewan is taking a unique approach to operating its community rink, by using a wind turbine to power the social and sporting hub of Hazlet. Town officials hope the alternative energy will offset the costs of their new ice plant and and rink — and help the community of close to 300 makes its mark on the map.
“The media attention has been crazy,” said Lindsay Alliban, economic development officer for Hazlet and the surrounding area. “It feels like I’ve told the same story too many times, but it’s great to bring attention to our active and exciting community.”
“We like the recognition and people are starting to notice that we’ve got a lot of things going on here.”
Alliban credits Hazlet high school principal Kristy Sletten with proposing the idea to village administration. “She recognized that our rink needed to be more sustainable,” Alliban said. “We had natural ice on our skating rink so when the weather was really warm we didn’t have ice, this meant the skating season was getting shorter and shorter.”
“Sletten thought installing a wind turbine would offset the cost of an artificial ice plant and give us an extra month of operation in the winter and another in spring.”
Mayor Terry Bailey said he’s glad to see an ice plant installed after more than 20 years of using natural ice for hockey. “If we weren’t able to offset the power costs with a wind a turbine then we wouldn’t be able to have the artificial ice, which in turn allows us to have a lot more events in the arena,” said Bailey. “This project makes the rink more sustainable and in way makes the village more sustainable.”
The impressive undertaking started in early 2009, when Sletten wrote the proposal for the grant and submitted it to the federal government’s Recreational Infrastructure Canada (RInC.) The grant was confirmed in October 2009. That following December, Hazlet received a $704,000 grant from RInC for a new ice plant, a new cement surface and the wind turbine for the rink. Hazlet also received $35,000 through the province’s Net Metering Rebate Program offered through the Saskatchewan Research Council (SRC). The program pays 35 per cent of the cost for the equipment, up to $100,000, with 10 per cent coming from SaskPower and 25 per cent from the Saskatchewan Ministry of Environment.
SaskPower was also on hand to help with the wind turbine. “We provide customers with a road map of how to go through this process,” said Ian Loughran, Leader for DSM Renewable Energy Programs, SaskPower Eneraction. “Online we have samples of a filled-out application and a sample of some of the documents needed to proceed.”
“Hazlet, however, didn’t have that road map, they kind of had to stumble through the set-up, so now whenever SaskPower finds out about these projects we help by showing how to connect the dots, so to speak.”
Loughran said customers can benefit from the Net Metering Pro- gram environmentally and economically. “In most cases, you are offsetting the energy load, of say a rink or farm, so you’re not creating credits. It’s during the slow months that you start getting credits.”
“In the case of Hazlet, during the spring, - when there’s less activity at the rink, - they can start making credits because they’re using less of an energy load.”
Besides figuring out the logistics involved in erecting a wind turbine, the town also had to deal with digging up the frozen ground in winter weather. “We’re largely an agricultural community so we don’t really have any experts when it comes to putting up a wind turbine,” he said. “Thankfully we found plenty of people willing to help us.”
Bailey extended his thanks to J&J Air Conditioning and Refrigeration who made the trip from North Battleford to assist with the ice plant and National Crane in Regina helped erect the 85-foot wind turbine. “Barry White, with Western Recreation, travelled from Red Deer, AB to help with logistics,” said Bailey. “We provided the labour and he provided the expertise. We ended up using about 5000 man-hours of volunteer work.”
Dynasty Oilfield Services, a local business, committed endless hours of work to the project, said Alliban. “They were involved from the beginning to the end, without them this project would not have happened.”
“None of us in town really knew anything about wind power and how you hook it up to a rink so fig- uring that was a challenge,” said Alliban, who added the village had personnel come from the Centennial Wind Power Facility and Wilf’s Oilfield Services, both from Swift Current to assist with the installation of the unit.
“Usually when I mention Hazlet, the first thing people ask is ‘Where is that?’ so the turbine has kind of put us on the map,” said Alliban. “We’re the first ones to do something like this in Saskatchewan, maybe even in Canada. We’re hoping it will attract hockey players and curlers from Europe who might be interested in the international program we run at our school.” For now, the town is focused on making the sure the rink runs smoothly but Alliban hinted they might take a look into solar power in the future. “It’s kind of been a massive project so we might want to take a break for a minute but we’re always looking for creative solutions to common problems.”