Loney wants city to be leader in solar energy
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This article was published 12/08/2022 (289 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Branding himself as the most environmentally conscious candidate in Winnipeg’s crowded mayoral race, Shaun Loney says he wants to install solar panels on city hall and make it easier for residents and business owners to convert to green energy.
On Friday, Loney, a self-described “social entrepreneur,” published a plan outlining eight steps to make Winnipeg a leader in solar energy.
“We’re one of the sunniest cities in Canada,” he said, during an interview outside a Red River College Polytechnic building equipped with state-of-art solar panels in the Exchange District.
“We can capitalize on, not just the environmental benefits, not just the job-creating potential of solar, but also reducing our utility bills on a go-forward basis.”
The highlights of the community solar action plan include a “lead-by-example” requirement for existing and future civic buildings and a bylaw ensuring new developments optimize the renewable energy source to the maximum extent possible.
While noting the cost of solar has plummeted in recent years, Loney said his goal is for every city building to use solar energy to cover at least 50 per cent of its electricity needs within 15 years.
In order to make installation easier for individual citizens, he promised to partner with Manitoba Hydro to streamline, expedite, and simplify permits and inspection processes. The city will purchase supply in bulk and promote incentives offered by the federal government and Efficiency Manitoba, Loney said.
The plan caters to commercial property owners with the introduction of a property assessed clean energy financing model, meaning the city would start covering the price of installing solar upfront and recipients would pay the costs back over time through a voluntary assessment.
“It’s a pay-as-you-save arrangement,” he said, adding creative financing could allow both the city and residents to benefit from solar-related savings immediately.
“If you’re paying back a loan that costs $70 a month, but your utility bills go down $100 dollars a month — to me, that’s a savings of $30 a month.”
Loney said he also wants to offer individual residents and foundations the opportunity to invest in solar panels installed at community centres, parking lots and other civic properties in exchange for an annual dividend on credit on their utility bill.
The entrepreneur said he is uniquely qualified to lead the charge on the file, citing national business awards he has won in recognition of his role in creating green jobs.
Loney created Aki Energy and co-founded Building Urban Industries for Local Development (better known as BUILD). Both of the non-profits hire individuals facing barriers to employment to complete green energy projects. He also served as the Manitoba government’s director of energy policy, between 2004 and 2008.
Thirteen other mayoral hopefuls have registered for the city’s top job to date. The upcoming municipal election is scheduled for Oct. 26.
Maggie Macintosh reports on education for the Winnipeg Free Press. Funding for the Free Press education reporter comes from the Government of Canada through the Local Journalism Initiative.