The new Columbia Valley Centre is set to be tricked out with a top-notch solar system.

Although details of exactly what kind of solar panels will be used and how much energy they can generate are yet to be sorted out, the centre could have the system installed as early as later this fall.

Invermere partnered with B.C.-based organization Solar Now on the project.

“Basically they gave us $25,000 if we (Invermere) could come up with a matching $25,000,” said councillor Paul Denchuk. “It was challenging to find other streams of funding. Unfortunately right now, there’s just not a lot of it for alternative energy. But luckily we’ve been putting money away at the District for almost a decade in the District’s environment fund, and solar panels are something we are allowed to spend that money on.”

Given the lack of other grants and funding streams, the decision to use the money stashed in this fund to be able to get Solar Now’s $25,000 was a no-brainer, according to Mr. Denchuk.

“It was an easy decision for council. You spend some big money initially, but it pays itself back pretty quickly,” said Mr. Denchuk. “It was a real collaboration and we’ll get a brand new solar system.”

Local Solar Now program director Bill Swan told the Pioneer that solar panels for the centre “are still in the design confirmation stage. We’re waiting for some engineering specifications.”

Mr. Swan said the centre has been built “solar ready” and before a design concept can be put in place, they need to consult more with a structural engineer.

“We want to see it installed this fall and be getting it ready next spring. But it will be tight,” said Mr. Swan.

He added that Solar Now is also involved in putting a solar system on the new Radium Community Hall; as well as similar projects in Golden, Rossland and other Kootenay communities.