The Capital Regional District has launched a solar program with grants for hot-water solar systems for homes and businesses in a first come, first served, limited-time offer.
The incentives are funded by the federal government’s Clean Energy Fund, and have been available to Colwood residents through the Solar Colwood program since 2011. The expanded Solar CRD program is offering 100 grants covering up to a third of the cost of a new solar hot water system, to a maximum of $5,000, for homes and businesses in the capital region.
A total of $300,000 is available.
“Right now, it’s a one-time thing, but I hope to have more programs like this in the future,” said Glenn Harris, senior manager of the CRD’s environmental protection division.
The systems, which use solar energy to heat water, can reduce hot water costs by about 65 per cent a year in a family home, according to the CRD. The systems vary in price, but most cost between $5,000 and $10,000.
To qualify for the incentive, a registered installer must be used.
The Solar CRD program is one of several aimed at reducing energy costs and consumption in the region.
The T’Sou-ke First Nation became a pioneer in solar power in 2008 when it installed hot water systems on more than 40 homes and massive photovoltaic panels that power administrative buildings.
The community received the first aboriginal solar-city designation from the Canadian Solar City Project and was the inspiration behind Solar Colwood’s program.
The Colwood Fire Department was an early adopter of the solar program. Not only does it have its own system and a demonstration system for the public, but several of the firefighters and staff now use solar at home.
Capt. Frank Gale said he uses solar hot water at home.
“It’s saved quite a bit of gas and the bills have gone down,” he said.
“It’s a good way to get into using the technology,” said James Smyth, owner of Pacific Solar Smart Homes, of the CRD program.
Smyth, one of the program’s registered installers, has developed a low-cost seasonal system with the Camosun College Solar Thermal Lab, called the CamoSun Solar Direct Flow System.
“It doesn’t uses a glycol loop and heat exchanger like most systems, so it has reduced costs and a better performance,” Smyth said. “Also, there are less components, so less maintenance.”
To learn more about the CRD solar program and how to apply, go to crd.bc.ca/solar.
Does your home or business building have good solar potential?
• Plenty of sun, and not too much shading from trees, neighbouring buildings
• A flat roof or a south, southwest, or southeast sloped roof orientation
• Enough space for solar panels (for a home with three to five residents, about five square metres — 54 square feet — is needed)
• Space for a solar pre-heat tank inside the building