Residents learn about solar power

Community Featured

PLYMOUTH — Residents received a short course on how to apply for solar panel installation through a novel provincial program.

Plymouth resident Andy Thompson, who represents District 11 on Pictou County Municipal Council, outlined the success of the centre in successfully applying to the Solar Electricity for Community Buildings Pilot Program. The result was 72 solar panels that were installed on the south-facing pitch of the roof on the Plymouth Community Centre, where the session took place on July 10.

The 10 people who attended represent groups that have until August 9 to make similar applications.

The three-year pilot is into its last year with no certainty of being repeated.

“It eliminated our energy costs,” Thompson said. “It was a good idea.”

He provided copies of the first portion of a workbook that they would need to complete with their application.

Thompson first shared a video slide presentation called It’s Time for Solar to illustrate how it has become a preferred option for building’s electrical needs at a price that has become more and more competitive.

He described the steps in the application process that include completing the workbook, determining financing, completing the application, the competition process and executing the project

The most important first step is securing a company to install the panels, he said.

Robert MacKean, an electrician and renewable energy specialist who operates a business called Nova Sun Power out of his home in Caribou River, installed the solar panels at the centre.

Thompson said he chose MacKean for his experience and workmanship. More important, he said MacKean is close by if something goes wrong.

Thompson reiterated how the centre raised the $53,000 for the project. Donations from local businesses and foundations and a $10,000 municipal grant accounted for $37,000, while the centre borrowed the remaining $16,000 through the Credit Union.

“There is money out there,” he said. “It is a good project. If you have a good idea — and this is a good idea — the money will follow.”

Thompson mentioned the two metres on the building to show electrical consumption and generation. He noted the advantages of selling power back to the utility and the fixed price for electricity over 20 years.

“In 20 years, we’ll generated $150,000,” he said.

The centre’s panels keep generating more electricity from 900 kilowatt-hours in February to 3,000 kwh in June.

From left: Plymouth resident Andy Thompson and Dave Morgan from the Antigonish Community Energy Co-op view information on a screen regarding the province’s solar energy pilot program. (Goodwin photo)