Can Long Sault Arena handle solar? It’s a $65,000 question

The front entrance to the Long Sault Arena on Monday, Sept. 27, 2021. The township will be spending upwards of $65,000 to find out if the building can be equipped with solar panels. (Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston)

LONG SAULT – South Stormont will spend up to $65,000 to see if the Long Sault Arena can handle a set of solar panels on its roof.

Township council said okay to have Next Energy Development Group do a pre-feasibilty study to see if it’s “in fact a reasonable option” and EVB Engineering do a structural check of the roof of the building at 60 Mille Roches Road. The roof has been leaky in recent years.

If it goes ahead, the municipality would sell the hydro produced back to Ontario Hydro.

The move follows a presentation in May by Otter Energy, which suggested the township could reduce its electricity costs by putting a packaged solar plant at the arena, and could tap into “free grant money available” from the federal government.

Next Energy does custom solar setups as opposed to Otter Energy with packaged setups.

A side view of the Long Sault Arena on Monday, Sept. 27, 2021. The township will be spending upwards of $65,000 to find out if the building can be equipped with solar panels. (Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston)

As for how much South Stormont could save, that’s not known.

A report to council in June from the CAO on a third party review of the company’s proposal, shows a lot of information from Otter Energy was lacking. It did not disclose what would be installed, some parts were “oversized” for the arena and there was no information on operating costs for maintenance and replacement of the system.

Coun. Andrew Guindon brought the savings projection question up again last week asking whether the CAO could recall what the township could save. “I’m afraid I don’t, however, it was a packaged option based on information they had from another municipality with a entirely different arena plant,” Debi LucasSwitzer answered.

Mayor Bryan McGillis said this was “a great way to move forward because we’re not just buying something that’s off the shelf here. We’re going to be actively involved.”

The mayor added it will provide “maximum benefit to the community” and “grants will be available” to pay for it. He claimed the municipality will save “thousands.”

“I’m proud to be the leader in this endeavour. I’m excited about it,” McGillis said.

The exploratory item wasn’t budgeted or planned for but the township will take the money out of its working capital reserve fund.

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