After the Ryley Community expressed high interest in solar energy during our Public Survey of 2018, Council resolved on December 17, 2019 to acquire a Solar Power Generating System to achieve net-zero consumption of municipal electricity. Presently, the Village pays $14K annually for electricity plus $60K for distribution and service charges. As the Ryley Community demonstrated overwhelming support at the Open House held on February 13, Council confirmed and resolved on February 18, 2020 to move forward – Ryley is going solar net-zero!
The Ryley Solar Power Generating System will be built on the East side of the lagoon, and it will generate enough power to offset our $14K annual electricity usage. The project has been approved for a grant of $105K from the Alberta Municipal Solar Program (AMSP). FYI – as this project will be connected to the grid, we will always be required to pay for the distribution and service charges.
The basic operation is this: we will continue to consume (buy) electricity from the grid for our municipal buildings, the skating rink and the campground. At the same time, we will generate (sell) electricity back into the grid from the solar plant. Over a year, we would generate less electricity in winter and more in summer. It just so happens that Ryley is located in a peak solar exposure area within Alberta so this makes solar energy a great choice for us. Regulation does not allow us to gain a profit from our solar electricity so we will get a maximum credit to the total amount of electricity that we consume. That said, any over-generation that we produce will offset other carbon producers by our very own Ryley green energy.
Our Ryley Solar Power Generation Plant will cost the Village $175K and has a life-cycle of 30-years ($280K total project cost minus $105K rebate from AMSP). The $14K annual consumption savings will realize approximately $12K after paying a $2K annual fee for warranty and lifetime 24/7 maintenance. Simple return of investment (ROI) looks like this: $175K / $12K = 14 1/2 years to pay for the project. Therefore, the remaining 15 1/2 years of life on the plant would yield a $12K savings on our annual budget. Of course, Ryley is contributing to a greener world even if we saw zero savings.
As electricity prices rise (or fall), we will be insulated because we will generate power and gain credit at equal price that we consume. We will also set aside money to rebuild the project in future. That would be the money saved over the last 15 years, which means we would realize savings immediately if we rebuild in 30 years. Otherwise, if we choose NOT to rebuild in 30 years, we would have those savings available for something else (of course, we would have much more than $12k x 15 years, having carefully invested those savings).
Further, Council will be considering and consulting the Ryley Comuunity on whether we should we exploit the special 2.4% rate at which, Municipalities can borrow… As such, we could realize an outstanding Investment Rate of Return (IRR) on the project and leverage those future savings against the present ROI by spreading the cost over the 30 years ($175K / 30 = $6K) and start investing the difference ($12K – 6K = $6K) much earlier to see a significantly bigger nest egg in 30 years. This is an oversimplified version of a complex economic principle for IRR that actually works out extremely well for this project.
All documentation and reports for this project can be found here:
DANDELION Ryley Committee Presentation