Solar panels meant to demonstrate the potential for renewable energy have been placed in storage by the City of Terrace.
The 12 panels were installed a decade ago on the roof of city hall as a demonstration of renewable energy to tie in with the city’s purchase at the same time of a used Toyota Prius hybrid from BC Hydro.
The idea was that electricity generated by the panels would offset the cost of charging the hybrid’s battery.
But they had not been working at the time of their removal and in any event were interfering with regular maintenance of the city hall roof, says Ben Reinbolt, the city’s acting engineering and public works director.
Installed right above where the Prius is parked, the panels were first disconnected during a city hall generator project a few years ago after which it was decided it was not feasible to reconnect them.
“This was due to the minimal output as well as some challenges with fitting the necessary equipment into the utility room at city hall to keep the solar panels in operation,” he said.
The job eventually is to determine if the stored panels are in good working order, what output and cost savings the city could expect if they were reinstalled at a city facility deemed suitable.
“At this time, we have no plans to reinstall them, but we will hang onto them until we know more,” said Reinbolt.
The used Prius hybrid cost the city $17,000 with another $10,000 spent to convert it from a pure hybrid to one that could be plugged in.
In the meantime, city council and city administrators have discussed in general terms converting the city’s vehicle fleet to an all-electric one.
A starting point might be deciding which vehicles would be the most feasible to convert first, indicate minutes from a June 16 city council committee of the whole discussion surrounding preparations for the 2023 city budget.
Installing the infrastructure to provide sufficient electricity and then vehicle charging stations were called key components of any conversion plan.
“There is still a large amount of work to do on this subject moving forward,” the committee of the whole minutes state.