The city of Iqaluit has a new way to save on the power bill at its Arctic Winter Games arena, at least when the sun is shining.

The hockey rink – also home to Iqaluit's Youth Centre – recently had 40 solar panels installed on its back wall. And it didn't cost the city a dime.

The panels had a $100,000 price tag and were funded by the federal government's ecoENERGY program through the Department of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada.

"The city is in a deficit position and we're looking at all buildings, programs, services and trying to find ways to reduce costs," said Amy Elgersma, Iqaluit's director of recreation.

"Using solar power is one way of reducing our energy costs." 

She estimates the panels will generate enough power to save the city at least $6,000 per year.

Elgersma says the annual power bill is about $170,000.

More sun energy than Los Angeles

The 10 kilowatt system on the arena's back wall generates enough power to run two Canadian households, says Klaus Doring, the president of Green Sun Rising.

The Windsor, Ont.-based company installed the panels in February at the arena, as well as at the Qulliq Energy Corporation's Iqaluit diesel power plant.

"You have very little moisture in the atmosphere up North, which means less sunshine is being filtered out, which means on a sunny day you have an awful lot of sun energy coming through, more so than you would have in a place like Los Angeles for example," said Doring.

"And when you actually look at the data itself, you would be surprised. Places like Iqaluit in their best months will out-perform Rio de Janeiro, not a problem."

Doring says the panels operate more effectively in the cold, when the sun is shining. In the dark winter months, it's another story.

Though Doring says in the brighter months, with nearly 20 hours of sunshine a day in Iqaluit, there's more opportunity to generate power than in southern Canada.

With files from John Van Dusen