Winmar in Moose Jaw becomes entirely solar-powered

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The first commercial solar panel array in Moose Jaw recently completed its installation.

Jamie Erdahl of United Roofing and Kyle Jacques of Winmar stand on a platform near the roof of the Winmar building in Moose Jaw on Monday. An open house was held there to showcase the new solar panel array on the building's roof.

Winmar, a property restoration company, held an open house Monday to showcase its $136,000 photovoltaic solar panel array, which will meet the power needs of that company's entire Moose Jaw building.

Brook Longpre, vice president of sales for Sound Solar Systems, the company that installed the panel for Winmar, said that the project has 136 solar panels which each generate 275 watts. The array will generate 45,000 kilowatt hours per year, which would be about how much electricity five average residential homes in Saskatchewan used annually in 2014, according to the latest SaskPower information.

"We have done other commercial projects, but this one would be the largest in terms of the actual prep and size," said Longpre.

People could also use the electricity generated by the company's solar panels to fuel electric cars. (People could also do that at Peavey Mart locations across Canada.)

Glenn Woolfrey, Winmar executive vice-president of Canadian operations, said that this is part of their company's green initative, and would be a model for other locations across the country.

"This is one we're going to be watching very closely," he said.

Kyle Jacques, the owner of the Winmar facility in Moose Jaw, said that they believed it would be possible to repay the costs to install the array within seven to 11 years.

In other terms, it will create 40 tonnes of carbon dioxide offset a year, which is the environmental equivalent of planting 40 trees annually.

"It's great to see projects of this magnitude come together to really provide a showcase for others to learn from and also be part of something good for themselves, as well as for the environment," said Longpre.

Longpre said that Saskatchewan had the best amount of sunlight across the country for this type of program.

The province's flat geography and air quality helped add that.

"We're just lucky enough to have that solar resource there that's continuous."

Still, she noted that the provincial government is not as aggressive when it comes to generating solar energy. She said that Ontario and Alberta have other programs meant to encourage solar use that Saskatchewan does not, such as feed in tariffs and municipal incentives.

"We have yet to, I think, really kind of grasp the potential, if you will," she said.


Organizations: SaskPower, Peavey Mart

Geographic location: Winmar, Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan Canada Ontario Alberta

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