Solar energy can launch green tidal wave for Cowichan Valley

Maple Bay – I see a green tidal wave of good news for Cowichan in the struggle against climate change – and hey, it’s about time.

The CVRD has more “green” political representation after recent municipal elections – new people like Sonia Furstenau in Shawnigan Lake, Rob Douglas in North Cowichan and Kerry Davis in Mill Bay.

Even in Ottawa, senators are discussing the need to act on climate change – this while our Prime Minister received an embarrassing verbal scolding from the United Nations Secretary-General for his appalling failure to act on climate change. One senate speaker compared climaterelated catastrophic weather events with water flowing downhill; we may not know the exact route, but it always ends up at the bottom of the hill.

The American Society of Science has warned that our social infrastructure will be destroyed by storms caused by climate change. And the high cost of repairing this storm damage will reduce governments’ ability to fund normal services like medical care, road maintenance, garbage collection, and so on.

So most governments know they must act. Locally, one action our green politicians should consider is to provide financial incentives, such as zero-interest loans, to encourage homeowners to install solar panels and make their own electrical energy. This will be easy for them to do politically, since solar panels installed on our rooftops will return a profit which could be given back to the municipality until the loan is paid off.

For myself, I plan to transfer pension money into the creation of a solar “farm”. Viridian Energy Co-op and Alternative Electric, both local companies, will be installing 192 solar panels on my property in February. I will sell electricity to BC Hydro and earn a profit – increasing from four to eight per cent over 25 years.

BC Hydro tells me that Cowichan is lighting up their map of B.C. with solar energy – we are a hotspot for solar panel installations. If you are interested in a bulk buy, contact cowichancarbonbusters@shaw.ca In my opinion, my solar farm is a better investment for my old age than shares in an unpredictable stock market. And if the municipality sees profits from my pilot project, they then could form a much larger publically-owned solar energy utility that would make money and reduce our taxes.

Importantly, if citizens start making renewable energy for a profit, they will also then see the advantage of using electricity to power their new electric cars. Using electric cars will reduce the amount of carbon emissions into the atmosphere big time – almost 80 per cent of greenhouse gases in Cowichan come from our cars and trucks.

This combination of locally produced solar energy and gas-less electric cars could start a real green tidal wave, saving us money on car maintenance and fuel costs, lowering our utility bills, and reducing our collective carbon emissions.

Remember, severe weather events will only worsen if we do not reduce our carbon emissions – as surely as water runs downhill. So both individuals and politicians need to act.

Solar power is a win for our bank accounts, a win for local jobs, and a win for our planet.

Peter Nix, Cowichan Carbon Buster

Maple Bay