The Town of Black Diamond is committing two years to seeking alternative energy grant opportunities in hopes to move ahead with a solar project for its sewage system after the proposed project lost out in a provincial competition last spring.
Black Diamond town council passed a motion at its July 15 meeting to participate with the Westend Regional Sanitary Sewage Commission and AEnergy Capital to seek alternative energy grant opportunities over the next two years.
Westend is a not-for-profit corporation that operates the sewage treatment plant that services Black Diamond and Turner Valley, while AEnergy is a clean energy merchant bank for Canadian communities, institutions and companies
“We’re just looking for more efficient and more sustainable ways to deal with our expenses concerning utilities,” said Black Diamond Mayor Ruth Goodwin. “The project would definitely assist in the lessening of electrical expenses overall with Westend.”
The proposal – a $3.4 million small-scale 1.7 megawatt solar photovoltaic farm south of the upper lagoons - was not selected for the Municipal Community Generation Challenge, which offered $10 million in grant funding for projects that provided sustainable solutions towards low carbon electricity generation.
The proposed solar project would generate electricity to sell to the grid. The money would be used to offset the sewage treatment facility’s electricity costs, which was budgeted at $85,000 in 2019 – higher than the cost to power the Oilfields Regional Arena and Scott Seaman Sports Rink combined.
During the July 15 meeting, council also supported the commission’s decision to apply for the Federation of Canadian Municipalities Signature Initiative Grant, which contributes 80 per cent up to $500,000 towards highly innovative and impactful environmental capital projects that reduce GHG emissions and protect the air, water and land.
Goodwin said she feels the provincial and federal governments are moving towards a focus on sustainable projects, which could mean more funding opportunities in the near future.
“I think we will start to see an increase in the sustainable and green energy projects once again,” she said. “It’s important that we stay in the forefront on all three levels - provincial, federal and municipal - to be able to move quickly when there are grants available.
“Our administration is doing a great job at staying in touch and being able to access those opportunities when they arrive.”
At its May 26 meeting, Westend passed a motion to further explore opportunities and partnerships with third parties to reduce operating costs through alternative energies before the motion came to Black Diamond Town council.
Chief administrative officer Sharlene Brown told council that any grant opportunities will come before the group for approval before they’re submitted.
She said if grant funding is obtained, the Town is obligated to contribute 10 per cent of the total project cost.
The Town of Black Diamond has been researching and utilizing alternative energy for its facilities since 2006.