While Bay St. George skiers hit the trails, their clubhouse will catch some rays
It's greener, cheaper and will actually give back to the club financially.
Stephenville's Whaleback Ski Club has undergone a major renovation that will see it use solar power to generate electricity and help pay the bills at the club's chalet.
During the winter, when the club is most active and the days are shortest, it will draw on the provincial power grid to run the facility. During the summer, the club is less active, but there's far more potential solar energy available as the days are longer, so the club will sell the power it generates back to the provincial grid.
"We're hoping that the income from the solar panels will help cover [most] of our electrical bill for the year, which will be a big help to the club," said Ivan MacDonald, a club member who helped lead the renovations. "We're a non-profit, and so any help we can get paying our bills will be great."
MacDonald says they noticed buildings in the community installing solar panels to help offset costs, so it made sense to incorporate solar energy into their major renovations.
"We're hoping to make it into more of a four-season club so that we can appeal to more people and make more use of it," he said. "We'll be able to use the club more in the summer as well because the heat pumps will give us air conditioning for our chalet and we can use it for rentals, for events and things that are on the go along that line. So that's good."
The club's green focus also includes LED lighting and improvements to the building's insulation of the building, complementing work done on the exterior of the building in 2021, including new siding, windows and roofing.
The club spent $9,051 of its own money on the work, and had grants from all three levels of government totalling $116,925.
"People seem to be quite pleased," MacDonald said. "I think people are happy to have a nice facility to come to and enjoy and be in comfort. And, you know, it's been a good reaction."
Whaleback has about 200 active members, up slightly over the past few seasons. MacDonald says the COVID-19 pandemic brought it more skiers as more people wanted to get out and get active while maintaining physical distancing. It's also a sport that provides many health benefits, he said.
"Cross-country skiing exercises so many muscles of the body," MacDonald said. "It's a great workout. It's leisurely. You can enjoy nature. You can ski along by a stream and listen to the trickle of the stream.… You can get exercise in fresh air [and the] beauty of nature. You can't go wrong."