Lumsden, Sask., gets $1.1M from Ottawa for solar power project

Saskatchewan's biggest cities have been steadily adding solar power, but smaller communities like Lumsden are doing it, too.

Town's sewage treatment system will use less carbon, thanks to solar panels

Lumsden is a town of 1,800 northwest of Regina. It is using solar power to reduce its carbon footprint. (Matt Howard/CBC)

Saskatchewan's biggest cities have been steadily adding solar power, but smaller communities like Lumsden are doing it, too.

The town of about 1,800 people nestled in the Qu'Appelle Valley northwest of Regina has installed solar panels as part of an overall upgrade of its sewage treatment system.

$1.1M from federal low-carbon fund

"The wastewater treatment committee worked on a solution to our sewage lagoon problem and we have that solution in place," said Rhonda Phillips, Lumsden town councillor and chair of the committee.

"The solar project is a part of it."

Lumsden's wastewater treatment facility will be getting most of its power from solar panels. (Matt Howard/CBC)

Money for the project was approved a year ago and since then, Phillips says, the committee has been fine-tuning it.

It's ready to go, it's hooked up, it's operational.- Lumsden town councillor Rhonda Phillips

Ottawa has put $1.1 million into the town's solar initiative through its Low Carbon Economy Fund.

3 segments to town's solar project

The town currently has three components to its solar project, Phillips said.

"One is the recycling centre and it'll be net zero, it's ready to go, it's hooked up, it's operational," she said. "The solar panels are in, bidirectional meters are in and it's all good."

There will be power for a compactor and a recycling centre, complete with computers, lights and heat.

A solar power array at Lumsden, Sask., will provide electricity for the town's sewage treatment infrastructure. (Matt Howard/CBC)

A second part of the project is a wastewater lift station.

"The solar is in place to operate that station and it will be hooked up within the next two months." Phillips said.

616 kilowatts of solar power

The third component to the project will bring solar power to the new wastewater treatment plant including all of the associated infrastructure.

"Electricity will be provided to it from a very large solar array ... which will have 616 kilowatts of solar [energy]."

Phillips said the large sewage treatment facility component also has batteries so it won't export onto the SaskPower grid.

"Renewable energy will be produced by the solar panels, it'll go and be stored in a big battery system and then the solar panels and the battery are available to run [the] wastewater treatment plant," Phillips said.

She says the panels will provide about two-thirds of the electricity Lumsden needs to run the wastewater treatment plant.

Lower carbon footprint

Over the lifetime of the project, its expected Lumsden will see a cumulative reduction of about 13,200 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions.

That's equivalent to taking 4,000 cars off the road for one year.