Randy Rodgers of Rodgers Electric climbs up to install a new solar array in Steelhead Park on Oct. 26. The solar panels will feed energy into the BC Hydro Grid

Solar panels installed in Steelhead Park

Two solar panels installed Oct. 26 in Steelhead Park will start powering street lights in the next three weeks.

Houston’s energy future is looking up, way up.

A pair of solar panels installed Oct. 26 in Steelhead Park will start catching sun and powering the park’s street lights within the next three weeks.

Kevin Pegg, president of Energy Alternatives, said the solar panels and the info kiosk going up next to them are a great way to showcase the sky-high technology in a down-to-earth way.

“We felt it was quite important to give people the whole story,” Pegg said.

Once finished, a display in the kiosk will show much electricity is coming in to the system, how much is going out, and how much has been generated in total.

Pegg said he hopes the display will give people a better grasp of what our energy use looks like.

“Ask someone how many kilowatt hours they used in their house last month and who knows?” he said. “But people will probably know how much fuel they put in their car.”

Energy harvested by the panels will be pushed back through the BC Hydro grid, Pegg said.

Power will feed into the grid in summer, but the system will actually draw some power in winter. Over a year, he said, the system nets a surplus of electricity.

“It basically uses the power grid as its battery.”

The District of Houston contracted Energy Alternatives to install the panels using a $50,000 grant.

That grant came from Energy Centre of the North, a group that has since dissolved, leaving the District to decide exactly how to finish the project.

In July, Houston council decided to install the panels at Steelhead Park, rather than Newgard or Jamie Baxter park, because the open area will catch more sun and more eyes from highway travellers.

The panels cost $38,500 and the kiosk $61,500, for a total cost of $100,000. After applying the $50,000 grant, the District paid for the remainder of the project with funds already allocated in the 2011 budget.