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Summerside's plans for solar energy looking sunny, says mayor

Summerside's mayor Bill Martin hopes to announce in the next couple of weeks the international partner the city will be partnering with on a new solar energy pilot project.

Plans to augment recreation centre's power with solar panels just the beginning, says Martin

The project will see a field of solar panels constructed around Credit Union Place. (CBC)

Summerside's mayor Bill Martin hopes to announce soon the international partner the city will be partnering with on a new solar energy pilot project.

It's a $3 million project that will see a field of solar panels constructed around Credit Union Place and a battery system that can store the energy for backup, said Martin.

The city is willing to invest $1.5 million because it is projected to cut the recreation centre's annual energy bill of about $380,000 by almost a third — saving about $105,000 a year.

The plan had been to mount the panels on the building's roof, but now that has changed.

First of three phases

"When we looked at the new buildings codes and snow loads and the additional weight that this would bear on the structure and the tolerance for safety we felt that we didn't want to take that chance," Martin said.  

The City of Summerside is hoping to announce a new partner in its plan to install solar panels to help power Credit Union Place. (Stephanie Brown/CBC)

The city isn't sure yet how many parking spaces the project will eliminate, but Martin believes it won't be a problem.

"There's a huge footprint of paved parking, there's over 800 parking spaces at Credit Union Place," he said. 

At a public meeting in December, one Summerside resident expressed concern over the loss of parking spaces. 

The C.U.P. solar panels would be the first phase of three involving the mystery partner: the second would be developing a "large-scale solar farm which would move our renewable energy component to between 65 and 70 per cent of our needs," said Martin, adding the third phase "has to do with testing and storage."

With files from Laura Chapin

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