BARRHEAD - Between high unemployment, a rough harvest and massive cuts by the provincial government, it feels as though the majority of stories in the these days are unrelentingly bleak.
And yet, even amidst all these grim headlines, there is the occasional good tidings, such as the recent news that the Barrhead Senior Citizens’ Drop-in Centre is now being (partially) powered by solar energy.
You can read more about how the Barrhead & District Senior Citizens Society installed a 20-kilowatt system over the summer at https://www.townandcountrytoday.com/barrhead-news/twenty-kilowatt-solar-panel-array-now-powering-barrhead-senior-citizens-drop-in-centre-1962561. Suffice to say, the local society has made an investment in the longevity of their centre by installing a system that will provide the majority of their electricity needs.
During the Dec. 6 ribbon-cutting, town Coun Leslie Penny posed an interesting question: what difference does it make if one drop-in centre adopts solar power?
In the grand scheme of things, it might seem meaningless. But let’s consider the demographics of Barrhead, a community where more than a quarter of the population is over the age of 65.
The drop-in centre is an essential lifeline for many seniors who would otherwise have to cope with isolation and loneliness.
What’s more, it is the site of many other events, such as the all-candidates forum that was held before the federal election and a recent “Community Conversation” hosted by Alberta Health Services.
The solar array on the drop-in centre is projected to produce over three-quarters of the centre’s power needs, and that’s going to mean significantly lowered utility bills. While installing the panels may have been expensive, the subcommittee that oversaw the project believes the money will be recouped over a decade.
What’s more, the drop-in centre’s efforts can serve as an example to others. Of course, not everyone can afford solar panels, but the seniors also lowered their energy costs by doing things like installing LED lights and insulating their water pipes.
The seniors society isn’t the only organization saving money by adopting ‘green’ technology, either. The Town of Barrhead has a 156.8-kilowatt solar PV (photovoltaic) system on the roof of the Aquatic Centre that helps supply the power needed to heat the pool, and solar panels now help light Cecile Martin Park at night.
Three weeks ago, when the Pembina Hills School Division was reporting a $2.053 million operating deficit for the 2018-2019 school year, it was noted that the division’s LED Lighting Project had reduced utility costs sufficiently to save the division $30,000.
These are good news stories that tend to get lost amidst all the other negativity you see in the newspaper. Individually, they barely make a difference, but cumulatively, they contribute to a slightly brighter future.