The power of the sun... and the community
Antigonish co-op comes to Cape Breton to explain bulk solar energy opportunities
The Antigonish Community Energy Cooperative (ACE Co-op) will hold two information sessions on the Island. Local residents can learn about going solar, groupbuys, and much more at 7pm, Tuesday, February 21 at the Mcconnel/central Library in Sydney, or at 7pm, Thursday, February 23 at the Lake Ainslie Fire Hall.
The Co-op made its first bulk solar purchase, or “group buy”. In and around Antigonish County this past summer, from Pictou County to Cape Breton, Co-op customers saw their rooftops transform into rows of shiny solar panels. Eighteen diverse clients – ranging from private homes and municipal facilities, to a prominent local business and a faith group – took the plunge, for a combined group buy of over $376,000.
“That comes to 128.7 kw of new, renewable solar energy for Nova Scotia, or the equivalent of taking approximately 103 metric tonnes of CO2 out of the air every year,” touts David Morgan, ACE Co-op President. “Every solar panel that citizens install means less fossil fuels burned in our power plants and more money going into the local economy and helping create jobs right here in Nova Scotia.”
According to Enphase inverter data available online, this group buy doubled the amount of solar energy production in Antigonish County. Yet the Coop views this as just the beginning. Industry watchers report that solar panels act as their own best advertising. “The number one factor in a decision to switch to solar power is whether you know someone with solar power,” notes Patrick Yancey, ACE Co-op Communications Coordinator. “When people start seeing panels on homes and businesses in their neck of the woods, they think: ‘Hey, the technology is here. I wonder what kind of savings I can get.’”
The Co-op’s board is quick to lament that under our current system and policies, solar is still inaccessible to many. Heeding the adage that ‘if it isn't accessible to the poor, it is neither radical nor revolutionary’, the Coop applies a 2% levy on member purchases, with 75% going towards poverty relief. In their first group buy, their efforts raised an impressive $7,641.28. The Coop will use the funds to provide a solar panel system for a low-income housing unit, and is supplementing these funds with their own gofundme (https://www.gofundme.com/acecoop).
The Co-op has announced their second group buy, closing March 31st, 2017. With inquiries pouring in from all over northeastern Nova Scotia, it already promises to be bigger than the first. The Coop attributes their success to a tipping point in society, technology and the environment. “People are ready, the technology is ready, and the planet is certainly ready. It’s clear that solar’s time has come,” concludes Yancey.
The ACE Co-op services Antigonish, surrounding counties and all of Cape Breton. Interested parties can go to www.acecoop.ca and become lifetime Co-op members for just $5. Once you are a member, you can sign up for a free site assessment by an approved installer. After hearing all the options and deciding if a solar power system is right for you, you can reserve your spot in the next group buy with a $500-deposit. The Coop coordinates the group buy with suppliers and installers. Financing is available through Eco Loans from the East Coast Credit Union. After the group buy closes, the panels start going up and the juice starts flowing.
The Antigonish Community Energy Coop developed out of two public energy forums in Antigonish in late 2014 and early 2015. It is now an officially registered, non-profit, cooperative business dedicated to accelerating the local transition to a sustainable energy economy. The board is comprised of scientists, engineers, local business owners and other community members. Membership is open to all; and board meetings are open to the public. Learn more at www.acecoop.ca; follow the Co-op on Facebook at facebook. com/antigonishcommunityenergycoop. For further questions or to get on our mailing list, contact membership liaison Sarah Armstrong at email@example.com.