Solar power won’t shine on PoMo city hall

Original article.

Port Moody city hall and the rec centre won’t be running on solar power anytime soon. But photovoltaic panels could become a part of future civic structures in the city.

A report by AES Engineering Ltd. of Vancouver into the feasibility of adding solar panels to city buildings at 300 Ioco Rd. said the roofs aren’t strong enough to bear the weight of an array of solar panels.

Mo Khan, who authored the report, told council it would cost upwards of $6 million to strengthen the roofs. That would make the installation of solar panels more expensive than any savings realized by reduced hydro consumption.

“The structural integrity of a building is a limiting factor,” Khan said. “The age of a building imposes restraints.”

Khan said his company did look at other options, like integrating solar panels into the sides of the buildings, or installing solar panels on the roof of a large car port that could be built in the parking lot. But the large trees that surround the city’s property would limit their effectiveness; panels on the sides of the building would get peak sunshine only for about 30 minutes a day and a solar car port could only be built in the centre portion of the parking lot, away from the shade cast by the trees around its edges.

Khan also dismissed the idea of affixing lightweight adhesive photovoltaic sheets to the roofs as they would make maintaining and repairing the roofs difficult.

That’s not what mayor Mike Clay wanted to hear.

“I’m deeply disappointed,” Clay said. “Sometimes you have to be willing to do things. There’s different things you could do.”

But Khan said any alternative is discouraged by the abundant supply of cheap power from BC Hydro that doesn’t make many solar power projects cost effective.

“The low prices from BC Hydro doesn’t promote the use of renewable energy resources,” Khan said, adding much of their power is generated from renewable sources already.

But at the behest of Coun. Rob Vagramov, council did pass a motion to consider the feasibility of integrating solar power technology into future city structures like the Kyle Centre and the Public Works Yard.