WDAZ: Your Home Team

Published August 02, 2010, 05:50 PM

Solar Power Option At Bemidji Regional Event Center

This October the city of Bemidji will open its new Bemidji Regional Event Center. It will feature a 4,700 seat ice arena and convention center. There's a group that wants to add another feature to the Bemidji Event Center, and that's solar power. The solar project, which is still only in the discussion phase would cost more then a quarter million dollars. But supporters say it makes the new the New Event Center a leader in being green.

By: David Schwab, WDAZ

Construction continues on the south side of lake Bemidji on the new BREC, which is short for Bemidji Regional Event Center.

Bob LeBarron / Event Center Manager : "It will be used for men's and women's hockey. Many other special events, concerts, circus, family shows and many other things. "

It will be heated and cooled with a geothermal pump system. Adding to this green theme, recently the Bemidji city council approved a grant request of funding for a solar energy option.

Erika Bailey Johnson / Sustainability Coordinator :"And so what we are trying to do is integrate more of a renewable option."

Reporter: Ericka Bailey-Johnson is the Sustainability Coordinator at Bemidji State University. She says the 100-thousand dollar grant would only cover about a third of the 270-thousand dollar project. But the the big up front costs could be offset in the future.

Bailey-Johnson : Solar was generated if the BREC need it. It would be used by the BREC first. Then if the solar energy generated more then what was required it would be feed back into the network grid.

Reporter: Under the proposal there will be about 100-solar panels that will act as a canopy that would operate right outside the break.

Bailey-Johnson: "When we look at the BREC, we want to make it more sustainable, We want to try and think of some other ways to utilize energy in a way that would make the Bemidji Regional Event Center something that will be more sustainable. "

There are concerns about where the remaining 170-thousand dollars would come from to pay for the project. This comes after some of the controversy of building the 45-million dollar BREC.

Bailey-Johnson: "A really large investment for this commitment. So a lot of people said we really didn't want to see this happen and one thing that I always look at with things with the perspective of is how we are going to make it. ">