By JUSTIN ROBERT PAUL
Special to The Appalachian
STEPHENVILLE – The SPCA has recently been selected to receive a grant from the town to install solar panels to help offset energy costs.
About four years ago, Stephenville signed onto the ‘Partners for Climate Protection,’ which is a federal incentive to reduce greenhouse emissions in communities and to find innovative green approaches for business practices.
“We really felt like we had to lead by example as a municipality, so we started with small baby steps I guess you could say,” explained Mayor Tom Rose.
The town had begun installing bike lanes around the town as a way to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and has just finished work on the Stephenville Dome for enhanced efficiency.
“Everything we do now, we try to say, ‘Okay, what’s the economic benefit? What’s the social benefit? What’s the green benefit?’,” said Rose.
The mayor said it’s very important to keep costs down for the SPCA.
“We felt the SPCA would be a perfect, sort of non-profit entity, that provided a great community service that we could help to lessen the electrical cost, and we decided to give them a grant to go with alternative energy and to go with solar energy.”
Ted White, President of the SPCA, expressed gratitude for the green technology to improve the facility.
“We were approached by an Employee of GNR recreation to see if we were interested having solar power at our new shelter. And anything anyone wants to give us I’m all for it,” said White.
After Town Manager Mike Campbell and GNR Recreation completed all the cost estimates, it was presented to Council to see what could be done. One estimate, which offered 50 per cent efficiency, was ultimately chosen by the town. The second option, offering 86 per cent efficiency, was almost double the cost.
“The council is hoping give out a grant, once per year, up to $25,000 out to non-for-profit organizations, social organizations, to help them so they can offset their operating costs,” said Campbell.
Those funds come from the Town’s revenues, and moving forward all will be subject to Council’s approval.
“Next year it will be up to whoever is on the Council at that time. Next election is September. Hopefully it’s a good idea. In the case of the SPCA, it’ll reduce their electrical cost and they can divert, or use most of their money on what they’re on their business which is taking care of animals,” said Campbell.
White is very grateful that the Town has chosen the SPCA receive the first grant.
“You generate all your heat and energy in the summer, and you take advantage of that in the winter. So, we’ll probably have zero bills, and heat and light at the shelters because we have electric heat, I mean that’s fantastic,” said White.
He also expressed gratitude for strong community support.
“The town has been very supportive,” said White. “People hired on by the community is the most important part of this, because people show up at the door with a hammer want to work and help. It’s amazing. And this on top of it – free heat. It can’t be beat.”
These solar panels will have no batteries and any extra energy they generate can go back into the grid. The SPCA is currently waiting for a metre to be installed in the building to move forward with installation, and hopefully have the panels up and running early this month. There is also little to no maintenance required on solar panels.
Solar panels are not only practical, but one of the cleanest sources of renewable energy available. More and more countries, including Canada, are moving towards renewable energy sources and solar power is one of the most popular means to do just that.
Stephenville plans to push forward with its green initiative to help local businesses and non-profit organizations.
“We want to work with all of our groups. We have an application now with the federal government to look at our YMCA to do some alternative green enhancements,” said Rose
It is intended to continue implementing more and more green elements.
“Everything we do now has got to have a green component. I think that’s the future for our town, and the future for the province, and the country, and the world. That’s the direction we need to be heading into,” stated Rose.