1. Is a solar farm a good investment for St. Albert?
I don’t believe that a solar farm is a good investment for St. Albert for several reasons:
Energy is purchased at “demand rates” by utility providers. The higher the demand, the higher the price per gigajoule of energy produced. Solar produces energy steadily during the day when the sun is shining and cannot produce more on demand unlike other power plants such as Fossil Fuel generators or Hydroelectric Dams. Solar cannot produce additional power during the heaviest demand periods which are generally defined as between 4 and 9 p.m.. This means that solar power plants do not get to sell their power at premium rates the way on-demand generators can.
With the forecasted increase in electric vehicles between now and 2035 when Canada phases out the sale of personal vehicles powered by fossil fuels, there is going to be a greater need for power to charge electric vehicles over night. Can you see where solar power cannot meet this need?
Borrowing up to 34 million dollars for a solar farm is a huge investment that carries a very large risk using tax payers money.
Putting a solar farm on the “Badger Lands” means that we cannot fully utilize that land for other purposes like a future recreation centre (after we reach more than 100,000 residents) or even commercial or industrial land, both of which would contribute tax revenue to the city’s bottom line. We can’t just look at revenue from the sale of electricity, we need to look at the opportunity cost of lost revenue that the land could be earning.
2. Can we get the benefits of solar energy with a greater R.O.I. (Return On Investment)?
Yes, we can benefit from solar energy without using the “Badger Lands” and at a greater R.O.I.. We have quite a few publicly owned large buildings which use a lot of electricity right here in St. Albert. These include:
Akinsdale / Kinex Arenas
St. Albert Place
Three Fire Stations
Transit Garage (for buses)
These buildings all have roofs that will eventually need to be replaced. When we go to replace each roof, it would be a good idea to look at the feasibility of solar power to offset the power being purchased from the utility companies. Power saved can directly reduce the cost to operate these facilities without taking up valuable land that could be used for other purposes.
In summary, I do not support the proposed solar farm as a financial investment, when there are better ways to use our tax dollars.