A new solar panel installation at the school in Yunesit’in (Stone) is the biggest grid-tie solar installation in the Cariboo-Chilcotin.
“Grid-tie means that the solar panels feed the power directly back into the B.C. Hydro grid,” said Ron Young of earthRight Solar in Williams Lake, who installed the system during the month of November.
“There are many solar installations that are charging batteries for people who are off the grid in remote homes, ranches lodges etc; the Yunesitin school is on grid with B.C. Hydro, this system will reduce their power requirement by the amount it produces.”
When the sun shines, the entire system will produce up to 10 kilowatts of power per hour from 40 250-watt solar panels.
Yunesit’in Chief Russ Myers Ross said the project itself is a part of the community’s vision to save costs, be more energy conscious, and work towards renewable energy.
“John Lerner, from Ecolibrio, helped in bringing in experts to find ways to make the school more efficient and cut costs in the long-term,” Myers Ross said.
“Former Chief, Ivor D. Myers, was the main contractor that worked to establish the foundation; it actually ran three weeks over-schedule to complete because the ground was so sandy it caved in on the forms.”
In the end, everyone is happy to have completed the project, Myers Ross said.
He explained that the solar panel makes power which is then fed directly back into the grid. While it’s doing that it’s winding the hydro meter backwards, reducing the amount of power the client has to pay for.
In B.C., users of solar get back around the same amount they pay, whereas in Ontario or California, utility companies pay quite a bit more because they are short of power and are trying to supplement with alternative energy sources.
Even on a cloudy day, solar panels will generate power, Young said.
“It’s just not as much. The neat thing about the system at Yunesit’in is it has an online monitor so they can go to a webpage and see how much is being produced.”
It measures how many watts are being put out by each panel and records the information over days, weeks and months.
“The students and the community will be able to see at a glance the benefit they are getting from the system.”
The panels came from an Ontario based company. Young designed and installed the system and made the application to BC Hydro on behalf of the school for the grid connection.
After approval from the region’s electrical inspector, the switch was turned on this week.