Solar gardens continue to grow in New Westminster

New Westminster is rapidly warming up to urban solar gardens.

With the city’s first urban solar garden now in place on the roof of the Queensborough Community Centre, the city is launching a public subscription period for a second urban solar garden photovoltaic array on Oct. 15. That one will be located on the roof of the engineering operations building at the city’s works yard.

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Norm Connolly, the city’s community energy manager, said the city didn’t know how sales were going to go when it offered subscriptions the first solar garden.

“The response by the community was pretty strong,” he said. “The panels got subscribed within three weeks once we started, and a waiting list appeared.”

When all 156 panels at the Queensborough solar garden were quickly snapped up, the city started a waiting list for local residents interested in subscribing to a potential second array. The initiative allows residents, businesses, non-profits and institutional organizations served by the New Westminster Electrical Utility to buy a solar panel and use the energy generated by the panel as credits toward their power bills. 

“We are allowing more time this time around for the subscription period and will keep the pre-sales period open until we are fully subscribed,” Connolly said. “Staff will proceed with final engineering and construction planning for the second array as soon as we reach the 75 per cent subscribed mark. Staff anticipate a good level of interest from the community, as there are already 11 people on our waiting list.”

When developing its first urban solar garden, the city selected the Queensborough Community Centre as the location of the first urban solar garden but also determined that the city’s works yard would be a suitable location. Prior to the installation of the solar garden, some repairs to the building’s roof will be done this fall.

If the second solar garden is successful, more projects could be built in the future.

“The third option might be city hall rooftop, once that’s been reroofed,” Connolly said.

Rod Carle, general manager of the electrical utility, said the new high school and the Canada Games Pool replacement may have interest in a solar roof.

“There has actually been some business interest over in Queensborough on large roofs. I think, as we move forward, the interest is just going to continue to grow,” he said. “We are always looking.”

Pre-sales, in which people subscribe to the city’s second urban solar garden at the civic works yard, are now underway. Details are found at www.energysavenewwest.ca/urban-solar-garden.

“Eligibility requirements have not changed, and reserving space in the new array is as easy as last year,” Connolly said. “Interested subscribers just need to complete an application form and submit a $500 per-panel deposit to reserve up to 10 panels. It is anticipated that the final per-panel cost will be between $810 and $860 per panel.”

Energy Save New West’s website is now live with a number of enhancements, including: updated information on the planned second array at the civic works yard; a link to digital video documenting installation of first solar array in Queensborough; a link to energy production dashboard from Solar Edge which tracks energy generated by the solar panels at the Queensborough Community Centre. For more info on the solar garden go to www.energysavenewwest.ca.

 

 

 

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