Local solar co-op shines on with third group-buy

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ANTIGONISH – The Antigonish Community Energy Co-op (ACE co-op) is entering its third year in operation and gearing up for a fresh round of info sessions and solar home tours to promote its 2018 solar power bulk buy.

Since its inception, ACE Co-op has organized the purchase of some 50 solar power systems  – or around 310,000 watts of solar power – in its service area stretching from Cape Breton to Colchester county. This prevents around 234 metric tonnes of carbon from entering the atmosphere every year. With the third group-buy, the co-op is optimistic about building on the current momentum and helping society towards the tipping point for renewables.

“The more systems we put up, the more people see and experience the value of renewables. At a certain point, as solar gains general acceptance as a viable power source, our political leaders will be much more likely to acknowledge the reality of climate change and put us on course for 100 per cent renewables with the appropriate urgency,” explains ACE Co-op president David Morgan.

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The local non-profit will promote its third group-buy with a string of info sessions and solar home tours around the northern part of the province.

“We have dates set for info-sessions in St. Andrews, and in Margaree, and we’re also looking at dates for Sydney, Pictou County and Colchester County. We’re encouraging enthusiastic members of the public to contact us if they’d like to see an info session in their area,” notes Patrick Yancey, ACE Co-op communications co-ordinator. “We’ll also host ‘Seeing Is Believing’ solar home tours in and around Antigonish, so the public can see for themselves how a solar home works.”

The Town of Antigonish is a particular focal point for the co-op this year due to its new solar policy. Residents on the Town of Antigonish electric utility are now permitted to connect solar power systems to the grid. This makes the Town of Antigonish the first municipal electric utility to connect residential solar power systems in the history of Nova Scotia. Four ACE Co-op members living in town have now connected and powered their systems on. “This is particularly exciting for town residents who are eager to help kickstart the clean energy transition,” adds Yancey. “We’re grateful to our town councillors and staff for working with us on this new policy and continuing to lead on the environment.”

What does the future hold for solar in NS? The co-op remains optimistic: “Big things are happening in the world. Despite certain parties turning away from evidence-based policy, the transition to clean energy is in high gear. Solar power is growing exponentially, and renewables now outstrip fossil fuels in new growth,” offers Morgan. “The co-op is enjoying some success right now. However, if our governments set a course for a rapid transition to renewables, as we are starting to see elsewhere, then we’ll really see the sun break through the clouds.”