Local museum to join solar wave of future

The Boundary Museum and Interpretive Centre is taking great measures to keep energy costs down.

The Boundary Museum and Interpretive Centre is taking great measures to keep energy costs down.On April 25, the museum (located at the Fructova Heritage Site) will be installing solar panels on the nearby hillside and fitting the building to be completely powered by solar power.The Boundary Museum built their new multi-purpose building for exhibitions last summer and had been awaiting word on funding for the solar system.  That word came about three weeks ago when the museum society found out they would receive $59,000 from the Regional District of the Kootenay Boundary from the federal gas tax funding.“We received the funding for the solar system and it’s on order,” said Cliff Schuh, treasurer and building supervisor for the Boundary Museum. “It’ll be arriving on the 25th. We’re inviting anyone who wants to come up and partake in the workshop (Saturday, April 26).”Schuh said the museum board wanted to go in the direction of solar power after seeing how exorbitant the electricity costs would be for the building.“Over and above that, in the winter time, the building is pretty much shut down,” he added. “So we would’ve been paying $40 a month just to have the line there and not using any power.”Schuh says the company the museum hired (Sun Find Solar Product from Red Deer, Alta.) will be installing 26 metres of solar panels on the bank on the south side of the property.“We’re going to be adding another 730 square metres to the building and we’ll be able to power that as well,” he said. “We’re also going to have all LED lights.”WD Sheetmetal of Grand Forks has installed a heat pump that will keep the building warm in the early spring and late fall, “and act as an air conditioner in the summer time,” said Schuh.The cost for the solar system is $59,000.Schuh says that the cost to run the building will end up being 0.37¢/kilowatt, amortized over 21 years, as opposed to 9¢/kilowatt that FortisBC would charge.“We have a bank of batteries (in the building),” he said. “There’s a 45 degree slope facing south down onto Spencer Road and we’re going to put the panels all on that slope. So there’ll be plenty of sun to catch there.”The day after the solar panels and power are hooked up, the museum will be hosting a solar power workshop which will be free to the public. Schuh urges anyone interested to pre-register for the workshop by calling the museum.The workshop will begin at 10 a.m. and last about an hour. There will also by a chili luncheon by donation.