Three community organizations in Balfour have gone solar.
Solar panels — specifically, solar photo voltaic systems — were recently installed on the roofs of the Balfour Seniors’ Centre, the Balfour Community Hall and the Balfour Golf Course clubhouse.
After the solar energy heats and powers the buildings, reducing utility bills in the process, any excess power will be sold to Nelson Hydro, according to Regional District of Central Kootenay (RDCK) director Ramona Faust, who represents the Balfour area.
She said the ultimate goal of solar is to cover the power consumption of the building, whether on a hot summer day when air-source pumps are cooling down the buildings, or on a busy day in the golf course building. The excess solar energy will be exported to the Nelson Hydro grid for a credit.
“What personally excites me is the energy independence,” Faust said. “For societies that operate on a really small budget, energy rates can start to be really inhibitive,” she said. “And we all benefit when we reduce our GHG emissions.”
The seniors’ centre is owned by the Balfour Seniors’ Association and the other two buildings by the Balfour Recreation Commission.
The panels were installed by Dandelion Renewables of Edmonton. Real-time solar generation data for the project can be found on the company’s website.
The solar installations are the second part of an energy efficiency program at the three organizations. First came energy retrofits including increased insulation and sealing of air leaks, as well as upgrades to lighting, appliances, heating and ventilation.
Following the retrofit, the seniors’ centre has reported increased membership and usage because the building is more comfortable, Faust said.
The retrofits were funded by the RDCK with federal/provincial Gas Tax Community Works Funds. The solar installations were funded by gas tax funds and the Columbia Basin Trust.
In a news release, the RDCK reports that:
• The Balfour Golf Course now has 132 Q Cells solar panels of 305 watts each. The panels were installed on both the east and west roof faces, for a total capacity of 40.26 kilowatts. The golf course is a summer operation whose season fits well with solar production.
• The Balfour Community Hall now has 60 Q Cells solar panels of 305 W each. These panels were installed on the west-facing roof, for a total capacity of 18.3 kW.
• The Balfour Senior Center has 30 Q Cells solar panels of 305 W each. This last set of panels was installed on the south-facing roof, for a total capacity of 9.15 kW.