LETTER: Give yourself a big green hug

What makes the Nelson solar garden green? Did those buying solar panels expect this power would be greener than our own dam’s waterpower?

What makes the Nelson solar garden green? Did those buying solar panels expect this power would be greener than our own dam’s waterpower? Would we just let our water spill over the dam to be replaced by this “green” solar power?

Solar panels aren’t green until they return all the non-renewable energy required to make them. That can take years, especially in Nelson. This isn’t Arizona. If solar power can avoid some non-renewable power being spent in a power plant somewhere, that could make solar power “green,” otherwise it’s just an undependable expensive feel good waste.

The only coal power in BC comes at night from Alberta. Those plants take days to shut down. BC buys that power at night, saving our water. Alberta has announced all coal power will be gone by 2030. Our solar garden can’t help there. So just where is this Nelson solar power becoming “green”?

The solar garden is supposed to save us on purchasing extra power from Fortis. The engineer’s report shows the solar garden for December could make 868 kWh. We pay Fortis four cents per kilowatt hour, so the solar garden would save us $34. Save? We resell that power for 10 cents per kWh, bringing $86, helping reduce our taxes. During high water from spring freshet through high summer lake levels our dam makes power to sell, up to 28GWh, equivalent to 700 solar gardens.

The engineer’s report shows the solar garden might make 7,500 kWh in July when BC Hydro buys 90 per cent of our extra power for 0.007 cents per kWh, if they buy any at all. July solar garden power could be worth $52. Unless all our extra water power were sold first, one could not attribute any solar power to getting to the grid to become “green” by saving some non-renewable fuel in some unknown power plant somewhere. That makes summer solar power, when almost all of it is made, worthless.

Is this clear, the solar garden saves? $34 that otherwise would bring the city $86 and if sold we might get $52 in July for a $300,000 project and no greenhouse gas is saved.

When you drive by the first solar garden about to be constructed give yourself a big green hug. That will be the only thing green about it. They are now selling solar panels for the second solar garden. Your power bill is going up 3.8 per cent this year. My pension went up 1.2 per cent.

I don’t know how many more of these solar gardens I can afford to have me save (?) money and make the planet “greener.” If you are a Nelson Hydro customer not in the city, you too are saving and making the planet “green.”

Norm Yanke, Nelson

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