The City of Duncan is hoping for a grant to help pay for a solar-energy project, similar to the one pictured that GreenCoast installed on the roof of the Hilltop Building in Duncan last year, that is planned for the roof of the Duncan fire hall. (File photo)

The City of Duncan is hoping for a grant to help pay for a solar-energy project, similar to the one pictured that GreenCoast installed on the roof of the Hilltop Building in Duncan last year, that is planned for the roof of the Duncan fire hall. (File photo)

Editorial: Solar panels on municipal buildings a good idea

Our municipal buildings are an untapped resource when it comes to solar power generation.

The City of Duncan is looking to install solar panels on its fire hall building on Duncan Street.

This is an excellent idea and we hope it catches the attention of the other municipalities in the Cowichan Valley, so they can look at where they might undertake similar projects.

Our municipal buildings are an untapped resource when it comes to solar power generation. Solar arrays could be erected on many of them to produce power for our municipalities.

The Cowichan Valley Regional District put in a solar array at Bings Creek Recycling Centre in 2017 that has been quietly soaking up the sun ever since.

Unfortunately, a similar project at Meade Creek Recycling Centre at Cowichan Lake was scrapped the following year because BC Hydro changed the rules about buying back excess power from such facilities, and so the district concluded it wasn’t financially viable.

Nevertheless, we firmly believe that the future of green power lies in small, local generation, not in mega projects that almost inevitably come with significant environmental concerns and giant price tags.

But even with Hydro making small solar farms less attractive, we shouldn’t be dissuaded as communities from installing the infrastructure to make our own power (and individuals shouldn’t be dissuaded if they’re just looking at a residential system — Hydro still offers a buy-back program for such small-scale systems).

Solar panels on municipal buildings can be used to offset significant portions of the power they use, and unlike a solar array in a more remote area such as Meade Creek Recycling Centre where power would need to be transmitted from one place to another for use, solar panels on individual buildings can more easily be utilized in full. Many municipal buildings have roofs that easily lend themselves to the installation of solar, with large flat areas for panels to be set up.

For many individuals, solar panels are not an option, due to the cost of purchase and installation, no matter how much they might like the idea.

Municipalities and regional districts can more easily lead the way. And it’s not like they don’t reap the rewards in the end, along with the taxpayers. Solar installations save us money in the long-term. It’s at least worth a look.

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