For­tis project will pay for it­self

Penticton Herald - - OPINION -

Dear Edi­tor: We would like to ad­dress con­cerns raised in a let­ter by Jim Church, “So­lar power not ef­fec­tive when it’s sub­si­dized,” (Okana­gan Week­end, Oct. 7).

We ad­dressed sim­i­lar ques­tions about our pro­posed El­li­son Com­mu­nity So­lar Pi­lot Project (the El­li­son So­lar Project) dur­ing the BC Util­i­ties Com­mis­sion ap­pli­ca­tion process, which closed Oct. 5.

We are com­mit­ted to pro­vid­ing our cus­tomers with the en­ergy they need to­day and in the fu­ture — safely, re­li­ably and at the low­est rea­son­able cost. As we pur­sue re­new­able op­tions, like the El­li­son So­lar Project, our aim is to pro­vide choice while pro­tect­ing the in­ter­ests of all cus­tomers.

We de­vel­oped the El­li­son So­lar Project as a small pi­lot project to gauge the in­ter­est of our cus­tomers and the rates we have pro­posed re­flect the full cost of the project. When fully sub­scribed, the costs will be cov­ered by par­tic­i­pants. If not fully sub­scribed, the mod­est size of the pi­lot project en­sures that any shared costs are min­i­mal.

In de­vel­op­ing this project, For­tisBC re­ceived en­gi­neer­ing, pro­cure­ment and construction pro­pos­als from three ven­dors and se­lected Cal­gary-based SkyFire En­ergy Inc., the low­est cost and most ex­pe­ri­enced. Their projects of note in­clude the rooftop sys­tem at Okana­gan Col­lege in Kelowna and Telus Gar­den in Van­cou­ver.

We were able to use data col­lected from other in­stal­la­tions in this area, as well as draw on the ex­per­tise of For­tis-owned Tuc­son Elec­tric, which has ex­ten­sive ex­pe­ri­ence in so­lar in­stal­la­tions.

As with any so­lar in­stal­la­tion, the amount of power pro­duced will vary. The gen­er­a­tion num­bers we used to de­ter­mine the so­lar rates are based on Nat­u­ral Re­sources Canada data for the Okana­gan area.

While close to 100 per cent of our elec­tric­ity is from clean, re­new­able hy­dro gen­er­a­tion, cus­tomers are in­ter­ested in sup­port­ing al­ter­na­tive re­new­able elec­tric­ity gen­er­at­ing sources.

If ap­proved, this project will pro­vide an op­tion to th­ese cus­tomers who may face bar­ri­ers to hav­ing a sys­tem of their own. It will also pro­vide valu­able in­for­ma­tion that could help de­velop other sim­i­lar re­new­able en­ergy projects.

Cus­tomers who have ques­tions about this project or other ways we are pur­su­ing re­new­able en­ergy are en­cour­aged to get in touch with us.

Mark War­ren, di­rec­tor, Busi­ness In­no­va­tion & Mea­sure­ment, For­tisBC

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