LETTER: Solar garden figures dubious

Kevin LePape says Nelson Hydro's proposed solar project understates the likely costs.

Re: “Solar Garden over halfway to sales goal”

This article has been corrected from “Proctor explained the choice of Nelson Hydro’s site at Bonnington is based on data collected from sensors placed there” to now read that “Proctor explained the choice of Nelson Hydro’s site at Bonnington is based on data collected from sensors on Elephant Mountain and at Lakeside since June 2014, and with a pathfinder measurement that is used to measure the effect of the horizon on the amount of sun available at a site, combined with long-term weather data from the Nelson airport.”

Right, let me clarify: incomplete data from a different location was extrapolated to simulate data for Bonnington. So in other words, no actual data was collected at the Bonnington site. What I said.

Much more important is the other erroneous statement attributed to Ms. Proctor: “Proctor said beyond a contribution by Nelson Hydro of $25,000 with an additional $2,000 per year for maintenance, the project is intended to be financially self-supporting …” This is pure horse pucky.

The maintenance of $2,000 per year is hugely understated as it equates to about five to eight hours per year for Nelson Hydro personnel. In order to keep panels clear of snow and ice (and clean from the ubiquitous dust we are all familiar with that coats everything here in the summer months), keep the site from becoming overgrown, to provide security and perform inspections through the year will cost double or more than is being allowed for.

Then there is the cost of inevitable, non-warranty failures of components such as the micro-inverters which have a finite, usually 10-year service life. The equipment is to be completely owned by Nelson Hydro and therefore any replacement and upkeep will be paid for by Nelson Hydro which means all of us and our Nelson Hydro rates.

How was the quoted figure of $50,000 ($2,000 per year) arrived at? I have asked this question directly and have yet to receive any answer or see any explanation anywhere. I expect that the maintenance and repair over the life of the project will easily exceed $100,000 and it is likely that the people not buying into the Solar Garden will end up paying more than the people who do.

Of course, this is the way with solar in this part of the world. It just makes no sense. The Kimberly SunMine is a farce that only flew because Teck paid for more than half of it. In Nelson someone else is paying for more than half the Solar Garden but the people paying haven’t been told by the people taking the money.

Kevin LePape, Rural Nelson

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