Baywave in line for $1m upgrades

By Carmen Hall

INNOVATOR: Steve Edgecombe wants to reduce electricity bills by using solar panels.
INNOVATOR: Steve Edgecombe wants to reduce electricity bills by using solar panels.

Baywave could get another hydroslide and solar panels to reduce its electricity bill if the two projects gain council approval.

The developments, estimated to cost about $1 million, are subject to feasibility and getting the green light from the council.

Aquatics Network manager Steve Edgecombe said the complex had been investigating the possibility of using solar energy for some time.

The 99kW solar panels could cost between $150,000 and $200,000.

Combined with the geothermal energy already used to heat the pools, the solar panels would provide energy throughout the day to reduce the electricity bill, which averages $25,000 per month.

Based on current electricity prices, Baywave was looking at a 10-year return on investment, Mr Edgecombe said.

"It's an environmentally sustainable, renewable source where ultimately we are going to be saving ourselves and ratepayers money.

"I have spoken to a few companies about it.

"I have received quotes and details, so really all we need now is approval to go ahead."

"I actually don't know of many pools that have solar panels, so we are not trying to be followers but innovators and leaders in the business and marketplace."

A second hydroslide was also planned and could be operational within two years if the business case met with approval, he said.

It would extend up a level and out of the building and, depending on technical aspects, its price tag could range from $600,000 to $1 million.

"The facility itself has been here for that long now and people get a little bit tired of the same thing, but a new hydroslide makes it interesting and it's a way to get more people through the door."

The admission price could increase or charges to the hydroslide might rise slightly to increase a return on investment, he said. "It won't pay for itself like the solar panels but we will receive more revenue to eventually help subsidise it."

Mount Maunganui Progressive Association chairman David Burnett said the plans sounded positive but he was reserving an opinion.

"I'm all for everything that is cost effective and if the case is strong enough that the roof panels and the solar heating will provide for Baywave an economic return in preference to using standard electricity, then I'd be for it.

"We need to see the package and the numbers because there is a lot of public debate out there privately, residential and commercially on the value of solar heating.

"If it can save the council money in the longer term, and if they can fund it on a reasonable basis in anticipation of reduced costs, then I don't think anybody can argue with that."

The funding for the hydroslide had previously been approved but was still subject to a business case and the solar panels were subject to the Tauranga City Council 14/15 budget approvals process.

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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