Nelson Community Solar Garden Launches June 24

Guest Blog by Carmen Proctor

Canada will soon have its first Community Solar Garden here in Nelson, BC, we are in the midst of connecting it to the grid where it will begin to generate solar energy.

I am proud to announce that we will be celebrating this exciting endeavor on Saturday, June 24th at the Grand Opening and Customer Appreciation Event that I have been busy planning.

If you are hearing of this for the first time you may not understand what I mean about a ‘community’ solar garden, sometimes I get asked if this involves vegetables. The project is actually a PV solar array of 248 panels in one location (above the Nelson Hydro Power Plant in Bonnington) in which the community has invested in the solar generation and will be receiving a credit back on their electricity bill in proportion to their investment. This has given everyone with an electricity bill from Nelson Hydro an opportunity to access solar through a local renewable energy project. And of course there are several shared solar projects across the country but none that offer the credit of the solar generation back on one’s electric account as if they had it on their own roof. And one of the benefits of this, is that it gives way more people access to solar since many can’t put solar on their roof (those who rent or have shaded or unsuitable roofs).

Nelson is unique in that it owns its very own electrical utility which generates and distributes the power, in fact it is the only municipal electrical utility in BC that generates and distributes hydro powered electricity, other municipal utilities only distribute. Nelson Hydro can only supply approximately 50% of the power required so it does purchase additional power from FortisBC. Now that you understand that you will appreciate how we were able to offer this project to our customers, we already have the billing in place and we have our own power lines.

One of the things that I am most proud of is that when we say ‘community’ we really mean it. The community was involved from the early planning stages of this project and the investors include renters, homeowners, business owners, various local Co-ops, Churches, Schools and our local Selkirk College.

This is a really proud moment for the utility so we are combining this event with our appreciation for customers and offering tours of the power plant as well. If you want to register for the event itself, which is from 2:00-3:00pm or the power plant tours plus free bus transportation please click on the poster, or visit www.nelson.ca/ecosave. There will be refreshments, plus Nelson Hydro information and displays. Hope to see you there!