COASTAL LIVING: Solar power becoming more affordable

NANAIMO – Increasing B.C. Hydro rates pushing people toward alternative energy options.

Have you been enjoying the extraordinary amount of sun shining on the West Coast?

Those who have already invested in solar energy of various kinds have certainly appreciated this year. Solar power has come down in price so much that it is often now cheaper than B.C. Hydro rates. As its rates go up (another six per cent this year) and solar goes down, far more businesses and homeowners are electing to become independent power producers.

Some electrical utility companies around the world are increasingly becoming a storage and transit system for the mushrooming number of solar installations. If B.C. moves ahead with building the Site C dam to supply power for the fruitless natural gas export market, expect solar to look even more attractive.

Despite our provincial and federal government’s support for fossil fuels, investments in clean energy in Canada and B.C. continues to expand, creating more employment, improved economies and more stable communities.

According to a 2014 report, the International Energy Agency stated it will cost $44 trillion US in new investments by 2050 to shift the global energy system away from catastrophic global warming. A lot of money. But the study continues: by investing this money we will save $115 trillion on fossil fuels, leaving us with $71 trillion in savings. Money saved, but also resulting in more (local) jobs, cleaner air, way fewer deaths and health issues, and a whole lot more.

If these numbers look promising, investing now in energy efficiency measures such as public transit, cycling and walking trails, enhanced building retrofits and more would result in even better outcomes.

If you would like to help bring solar energy and other renewable sources to the greater Nanaimo area then mark down May 7. A forum sponsored by our non-profit and the City of Nanaimo, in cooperation with the Regional District of Nanaimo, will consider how we can learn from Gabriola Island and others as communities take charge of generating power. It will be held at the Beban Park social centre. Doors open at 6:45. It’s free but donations will be accepted.

Congratulations to the Nanaimo Carshare Co-op on expanding to the Country Club area with vehicle number three. The neighbourhood “family car” will be available there soon, thanks in part to the support of the Coastal Community Credit Union.