By Gillian Slade on August 10, 2018.
Government funding for a solar panel system at the Miywasin Friendship Centre will reduce carbon emissions, reduce energy bills and help to keep rents low for the most vulnerable, it was revealed at an official announcement.
Minister of Indigenous Relations Richard Feehan announced Thursday in Medicine Hat a grant of $99,576 for the centre under the Alberta’s Indigenous Solar Program and through the carbon levy.
The solar panels on the roof of the building will provide about 36,400 kilowatt hours of energy per year and prevent more than 500 tonnes of greenhouse gases from entering the atmosphere, said Feehan.
The money saved will facilitate other programs.
Utility bill savings are expected to be nearly $5,000 a year, a press release states.
“The money that is donated to this community association goes directly to actually helping peoples’ lives get better,” said Feehan.
The building in which the Miywasin Centre is located was built in 1912 and contains 16 apartments. The rent for tenants is kept low and includes utilities to help the vulnerable and those at risk of being homeless, says executive director Jeanette Hanson.
“We’re hoping it will keep the rents low and affordable,” she said.
Additional funding through the Aboriginal homelessness partnership gave additional funds to reinforce the building’s roof to accommodate the solar panels and the cost of the installation, says Hanson.
“As soon as those panels are up the costs of electricity and heating and other things goes down the same day,” said Feehan. “This is a legacy project. Those panels are guaranteed minimum 25 years. So that saves you that kind of money for 25 years.”
Feehan says from experience, solar panels are known to last much longer than 25 years with their ability to produce energy decreasing a very small amount each year.
“In terms of sheer number of dollars to the community it is going to be significant,” said Feehan.
Local MLA Bob Wanner thanked the Miywasin Centre for many years of service to the community.
“If I’ve learned anything in these last three years it’s appreciating where our country and people have been. By first acknowledging that then we will have a better chance …. where we ought to be in the future,” said Wanner. “It’s these kinds of initiatives that are going to make us stronger. This is an example of energy central and building that foundation of renewable energy.”
Miywasin is an Aboriginal service delivery centre serving Medicine Hat and area with a vision to celebrate Aboriginal cultures, gather together and share, respect diversity and build for the future, states a press release.
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