2016 Solar Photo Voltaic Project

Who is involved?
The Corporation of the Village of Alert Bay is the local government for the Village of Alert Bay. We have issued a Request for Proposals so that experienced companies can bid on the solar photo-voltaic (PV) portion of our project.

Where is the project?
The Village of Alert Bay, a 440-person municipality on Cormorant island. Cormorant Island is 4.5 square kilometres, comprised of four political jurisdictions: ‘Namgis First Nation, Whe-la-la u Area Council, the Village of Alert Bay, and the Regional District of Mount Waddington. The total population, according to census data, is approximately 1,000.

The five sites consist of our recycling centre, public works building, fire hall, Village municipal office, and net loft/municipal wharf.

The community hall (stage, gymnasium, and 5-pin bowling alley) had initially been included in the project but it was determined that the positioning of the building does not make it efficient for solar PV.

What is the project?
The Alert Bay Green Municipalities Project is comprised of three phases. The current phase is installation of solar photo-voltaic panels across five sites that are projected to produce 71 kW of peak electrical output.

The initial phase was conversion of the Village’s 23 oceanfront boardwalk lamp standards from sodium-vapour bulbs to energy-efficient LEDs. This is beneficial in three ways: the bulbs use 52% less power, last 30,000-50,000 hours so they need to be changed less, and LEDs are manufactured with 25% post-consumer recycled materials.

The final phase will be installation of solar hot water heating systems at several municipal sites. We’ll have a better idea of how many sites will be involved after the solar photo-voltaic phase is complete and we know how much money is left to work with from the grant.

Why is the solar photo-voltaic project being done?
The Village of Alert Bay has a goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80% from current levels by 2050. Installing the solar panels will contribute to greenhouse gas reduction and reduce hydro costs in the Village. We estimate that the electricity generated by the solar panels will save $5,000 per year, in addition to the projected savings of $5,000 annually from the LED conversion. The numbers seem small, but to put it in perspective the annual municipal taxation revenue in Alert Bay is $250,000. We’ll be reducing costs by approximately 5% of that amount, which means that those funds can be reserved for future infrastructure projects.

The advantage of an infrastructure project like this is that the infrastructure itself will cause cost reductions, opposed to infrastructure that will cause cost increases due to maintenance and other costs incurred during service life.

How is the project being paid for?
The Village applied in 2012 to the Union of BC Municipalities Gas Tax Agreement’s General Strategic Priorities Fund for 100% of costs, estimated at the time to be $468,000. UBCM granted the full amount.

The cost of the LED lighting conversion was approximately $50,000.

The exact cost projections for the solar photo-voltaic phase are not available right now because we are accepting and evaluating responses to our Request for Proposal. In general terms, we expect the solar photo-voltaic installation to cost between $250,000 and $300,000, with room for contingencies.

When will the project be complete?
The Request for Proposals closes on September 13, and we anticipate awarding the contract on or about September 21. The project must be substantially complete by December 15, with final commissioning of the equipment to occur by January 15, 2017.