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One Cowichan wants to build a solar capital

Could the Cowichan Valley become the solar capital of British Columbia?

One Cowichan wants to make Cowichan the solar capital of BC, and will be hosting a “solar tour” of the Valley this weekend.

Representatives with One Cowichan will be presenting their project, Solar Action, to Lake Cowichan town council on July 14 at the finance and administration meeting.

“We’re looking to identify a champion within each council [in the Cowichan Valley] who can lead the discussions on solar energy,” One Cowichan spokesperson Rosalie Sawrie said. “We’re looking at what’s been done elsewhere, what the local interest is and what grants are available.”

The goal is to get the Town of Lake Cowichan and the other municipalities in the Cowichan Valley on board in order to make the transition to solar energy more attractive and accessible to homeowners.

“We’ve been sending delegates to different municipalities, to see how many are interested in implementing solar,” Sawrie said. “Some have already gotten back and are very excited.”

As for the public’s interest in switching to solar energy, Sawrie said that its quite popular, despite a heavy price point excluding many residents from actually pursuing it.

One Cowichan has also been spending time tabling at events and knocking on doors in order to build support for solar energy before talking to municipalities.

They also set up an online petition, which has received 1,327 signatures from Cowichan Valley residents as of June 23.

While the total cost of installation varies on several factors, Sawrie noted that the price of solar panel per watt has fallen from $101.65 in 1975 to just 61 cents today. If hooked up to the grid, the average time for a return on investment is 15 years.

She also noted that the Cowichan Valley is uniquely situated to take advantage of solar power, as it receives an average of 1800 hours of sunlight per year, compared to Germany, often referred to as the world leader in solar installations, which only receives 1500 hours.

As for what a solar-powered Cowichan would look like, Sawrie said that the msot likely path is for homeowners to have panels installed on their roof, though a solar farm is not out of the picture. It’s also likely that residents would need to stay on the grid, using BC Hydro as energy storage, due to the lack of sunlight during milder parts of the year.

The Solar Tour, designed to function like a self-guided garden, takes place this Sunday (June 28) from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Call Rosalie Sawre at 250-701-3134 for more info.

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