Leduc County council declined an opportunity to partake in the Alberta Municipal Solar Program (AMSP) at its April 26 council meeting.
The county’s options, other than declining, were to invest $347,900 in a solar system and apply for a $55,470 grant from the AMSP program or invest $141,900 in a solar system and then apply to receive a $22,624 grant from the AMSP program. Both options have a payback timeline of approximately nine years.
Mayor John Whaley and Coun. Rick Smith voted in favour of option two but it was denied with a majority vote.
Whaley says he voted in favor of the investment so the county could pilot a project and see in real time how it would work for the municipality. “Leduc County is not into solar yet and I think it’s about time we pilot something,” said Smith.
Coun. Glen Belozer was not convinced the solar panels would be able to withstand Alberta weather, such as hail. He also questioned how snow would affect them and Garret Broadbent, director of agricultural services, says they would not even be swept free of snow because they generated less power in the winter anyway.
“Just because everybody’s doing it and getting on board doesn’t mean we should get on board,” said Coun. Tanni Doblanko, who explained she cannot justify spending tax dollars on something with such a long payback period.
“I appreciate this is the flavor of the day,” she added.
Coun. Audrey Kelto feels council should hold off because one of the third largest tax bases in the county is coal mining. “I would like to be the last one on board.”