Amherst is continuing to work toward becoming one of Nova Scotia’s greenest communities.
Town council here passed a motion during its November meeting to spend $256,491 and associated project costs to Thermo Dynamics Ltd. to place solar panels on the roof of the Amherst Stadium.
The solar power generated from these panels will be sold to Nova Scotia Power through a 20-year power purchase agreement that will create a new source of revenue for the town and provide more renewable energy for the power grid.
“It’s a really great program and I’m so pleased and proud of the town for taking a leadership role in promoting the use of greener sources of energy,” Coun. Jason Blanch said. “When you think of 75 kilowatts on the roof of the stadium and then 30 or 40 on the roof of the fire department and police station, it’s a big step. And the county’s doing the same thing. It’s a significant step toward creating a greener community.”
Amherst is completing the project through the Solar Electricity for Community Buildings Program that enables community groups and organizations to generate up to 75 kilowatts of solar photovoltaic electricity on their roofs or properties and sell it to their utility under a 20-year contract.
The estimated annual output is 123,000 kilowatt hours.
It’s aimed to support community participation in renewable energy generation and to learn more about how solar energy can help Nova Scotia continue its transition to clean energy.
The stadium project is part of the program’s second year. The town recently received approval, through the program’s third year, to install smaller solar panels on the roofs of the Amherst Police Department and the Amherst Fire Department.
The program is run by the provincial Energy and Mines Department in partnership with Clean Nova Scotia.
Andrew Fisher, Amherst’s manager of planning and strategic initiatives, said installing the panels on the stadium’s roof should begin in March 2020, depending on the weather, and the plan is for the panels to be producing power by October.
He said unlike the solar project at The Hall in Parrsboro, the Amherst project will not power the stadium directly but will go into to the power grid – although he admitted it’s likely some of the power collected will help power the arena and surrounding areas of the community.
The project is expected to bring in approximately $551,000 in revenue over 20 years with $118,000 in net profit.
“This project is about producing and selling power,” Fisher said. “The program has been offered by the provincial government for three years and it has allowed groups and organizations, like municipal government, to develop a bid to sell energy through solar energy.”
The solar project is just the latest in a line of initiatives that began back in 1993 with the plan to reduce wastewater from the LaPlanche River and saw a $13-million wastewater treatment facility build on the marsh.
That facility has a wind turbine that has greatly reduced the operational costs.
With the assistance of its youth town council, the town also passed a motion earlier this year declaring a climate emergency and agreeing to have staff do a report on what steps it can take to reduce its carbon footprint and support residents and businesses to further reduce their footprint.
In February, the federal government and Nova Scotia Power announced the $93-million Amherst Smartgrid Project, being led by Siemens Canada and the power corporations in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.
Under the project, Siemens Canada will research and develop smart grid technology to help better manage the two provinces' electricity and build Canadian expertise that could improve the sustainability and efficiency of power grids around the world.
The project will help improve power delivery to underserviced communities, better integrate renewable energy into the power grid and reduce future electricity costs for consumers.
Siemens Canada will work with the power corporations in both provinces to develop and implement a powerful cloud-based energy system platform allowing everyone to participate in the energy market.
Council, Blanch said, has identified environmental stewardship as one of the key pillars of its strategic plans.
“These developments are not just valuable for the renewable energy they create but they show we’re a forward-thinking community and I hope it will lead to future economic development,” Blanch said. “When companies are thinking about where to locate they will see Amherst as forward-thinking and hopefully decided to come here.”