This summer, I took the initiative and installed 24 solar panels on my property. The panels worked on overcast days, when the sun wasn’t shining, producing more power than our two-family, seven-freezer home could use, and sent the extra power back to the grid.
I was surprised that the solar panels work on light; as long as there’s daylight, my panels are producing solar power.
Since installing my panels, my hydro bills have been slashed by more than 50 per cent. I expect even greater savings because my hydro supplier, FortisBC, recently installed a smart meter that measures how much excess power I send back to the grid and will credit future bills.
I figure I am paying three to four cents per kilowatt hour on solar. Fortis charges nine to 13 cents per kilowatt hour. What will be the cost per kilowatt hour in 10 years, if and when the Site C dam is built?
A new solar panel has already been developed and is entering the manufacturing stage that will substantially lower the cost of solar by reducing the amount of silicon needed in the panels. Another new solar panel is being developed that has a battery system embedded in each panel. The batteries charge during the day, when the solar panels are powering your house, and then the batteries power your house at night.
This is cutting edge technology that no hydro dam, no coal, no oil and no gas can price match. Once solar panels are paid for (I estimate mine will be fully paid for in about seven years), your solar power is free.
Consider Germany, a nation of 81 million people, which has 500,000 homes producing solar power. One third of their power needs come from solar. The projected Site C dam would supply power for 450,000 homes, but would also put hundreds of kilometers of beautiful river valley under water.
Construction of the dam also requires the relocation of roads and the building of homes for well over 1,000 workers, all of which the consumer must pay for in higher hydro prices. How much will the power cost: 15 cents, 20 cents, 30 cents a kilowatt hour? They don’t tell us. It’s just corporations making money at consumers’ expense.
China and India, which comprise 35 per cent of the world’s population, are on the fast track to developing the solar industry. China already has the second largest amount of solar capacity and will double its gigawatt output by 2020.
China is also the largest producer of solar panels in the world, selling the panels worldwide. India is beginning a massive program that will see hundreds of millions of homes, businesses and manufacturing plants powered by free solar.
In the U.S., solar is being embraced in a big way. Plans are to train 50,000 solar installers to add to the 30,000 installers and 1,000 instructors who are already trained. You have to ask yourself, what energy source is solar power replacing around the world? Is it coal, gas or oil?
All of these are produced in Canada. Our future markets for coal, gas and oil will only shrink, simply because solar power is clean and free, once the solar panels have been paid for. No other source of energy on the planet can compete with it, be it hydro dams, coal, oil, gas or wind farms. Corporations are hush about solar power because they know if it becomes widespread, they can’t compete with owner-produced energy.
We should be embarking on a future powered by solar here in B.C. and Canada. Lots of immediate, sustainable jobs could be created in a solar industry. For less than the price of a new car, I created a “solar plant” on my property that pays me every day and will produce clean, cheap energy for the rest of my life.
Do we need a Site C dam that will cost $8 billion to build and force hydro companies to charge a lot more for power to recoup their investment and make a profit? No! What we need is for the Province of B.C. to embrace solar energy and promote it aggressively and widely.
Make it a part of all public buildings; lower or remove the PST on solar panels; encourage the production of solar panels in B.C. as a new industry; provide incentives for installation of solar panels by businesses and homeowners.
This could lead to a new era of plentiful, clean energy in our Province and save our northeast for agricultural use to provide food for us now, and in the future.