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Wednesday, 01 June 2011 15:15

Wind-powered ice plant making Hazlet a leading community

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By Chris Jaster — This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Hazlet has always prided itself as a community that can teach other small communities how to be sustainable.

Now it has proof it has that capability.

On May 13, the Village of Hazlet was awarded the Municipal Innovation and Service Excellence Award at the Saskatchewan Municipal Awards ceremony for its wind-powered rink complex.

The Village applied for the award after it tried to counter the increasing costs of power at its rink by installing a wind turbine. The idea came to community leaders after seeing all the wind turbines along the Trans-Canada Highway.

As much as Kristy Sletten, a member of the committee to put up the wind turbine in Hazlet, and the community take pride in having a trophy in the rural municipality office, she said the volunteer work put in for the project means even more.

“I think the biggest thing is this project took so many volunteer hours,” said the Hazlet School principal. “It was between 4,000 and 5,000 volunteer hours that went into completing the project. I think this award is a culmination. This was a lot of hard work and we went through the ups and downs of doing a big project like this, but we achieved it.”

The wind turbine project cost approximately $734,000, with the federal government and provincial government each footing one-third of the bill. The rest of the money was raised locally.

That amount, however, wasn’t just for the turbine.

Hazlet also had its rink resurfaced and installed an artificial ice plant for the skating side of the arena.

Hazlet’s curling rink had artificial ice, but its skating surface had natural ice before the renovations.
In addition to being proud of the work and the award the community won — it also finished in second place for the Environmental Stewardship Award — Sletten is proud to be from a community that set a precedent.

Sletten believes Hazlet is the first community in Saskatchewan, and possibly Canada, to have a wind-powered ice plant.

SaskPower announced May 25 that Central Butte, Eatonia, Shaunavon and Stratsbourg have been selected for a wind-power demonstration project. SaskPower will set up wind turbines to help power rinks in those communities and find the potential economic and environmental benefits of it.

Sletten said there has been a lot of interest from other communities looking at following suit as well.

Hazlet’s wind turbine hasn’t just changed the rink and increased the reputation of the community.

It has also changed Sletten’s life, leading her to open up a new business.

“It was actually the basis for me starting my own business in turbine distribution,” she said. “I did that because we found out while doing the project that the costs for the technology in some instances can be marked up 300 per cent. I felt it was an amazing opportunity for small communities, but they had to have the ability to afford it.

“I took on the opportunity to distribute turbines at a lower price. It’s not my main line of work; I’m a principal of a school, so I do it as a sideline. I do it because I believe in the project and because I believe it can offer sustainability for a community, no matter what the size.”

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