FortWhyte Alive is now home to Winnipeg’s largest solar power plant. The 60kW solar farm, installed on a 640-acre nature and educational facility, will create 50 percent of FortWhyte Alive’s electricity.
FortWhyte Alive is an environmental, education and recreation center in Winnipeg, Manitoba. The large park and recreation facility is located in southwest Winnipeg along the migratory path of Canada geese.
Bill Elliot, President & CEO of FortWhyte Alive, said the challenges of climate change gives FortWhyte Alive to use the solar farm for public education on the need towards a global transition to a clean energy economy.
“As community leaders in sustainability, we believe that harnessing solar power at FortWhyte makes perfect sense from both an environmental and economic perspective,” Elliot added.
FortWhyte Alive expects around $350,000 in savings over the 30-year life cycle from the solar farm.
CBCNews reports that the solar plant will consist of 167 panels at a $180,000 cost. Bullfrog Power and Investors Group are supplying project financing, along with incentives from Manitoba’s Hydro rebate program.
Investor’s Group VP Finance and Corporate Social Responsibility Andrea Carlson said in a statement FortWhyte Alive aims to help us learn about the environment.
Carlson also said FortWhyte Alive’s solar farm will show the clean technology needed to guard the natural world for upcoming generations.
FortWhyte Alive is an example of how solar is gaining momentum in the Keystone province since Manitoba Hydro’s Solar Energy Rebate Program in April 2016 started.
The program is available to businesses, industry, and homeowners who add $1.00/watt installed with a minimum of 1kW system or maximum 200kW. Hydro offers homeowners a loan with a maximum of $30,000 for $3.00/watt for 15 years with a 4.9% interest rate who are looking to install solar panels on their rooftops.
Manitoba Hydro covers roughly 25% of the initial capital costs for installations, while residential and businesses can sell their surplus solar power back to Hydro, according to CBC.ca.
Justin Philips, President of Solar Manitoba at the FortWhyte announcement said Manitoba has seen exponential solar growth since Manitoba Hydro’s incentive program started.
“Our company has gone from three employees to twenty-two today. By the end of the year we expect to have close to 40 employees to service the needs of Manitoba,” Phillips added.
Twenty businesses have cropped up in Manitoba in the past eight months, who are now installing solar electricity, according to Phillips.
He attributes the growth to the incentive program, and customers are looking to hedge bets against increased Manitoba Hydro rates.
“Manitobans have an opportunity to take control of their own power production, and they are doing so with solar,” said Phillips.