When the going gets hot it’s time to think of solar

Open house demonstrates the economics of solar power

  • Jul. 15, 2015 3:00 p.m.

If you push him, Jon Lefebure will go down to the bottom line when it comes to solar power.

Yes, you will save some on your hydro bills, and that factor is likely to grow over the coming years. Yes, as investments go, your home improvement will probably pay off better than many stocks, bonds or other instruments you could hope to cash in on. Yes, it does trend you toward being ‘off the grid’…

But when you get right down to it, installing solar panels on your roof, like he has done on the garage of his Beach Avenue home in Chemainus, is an investment in the future. And if this summer is any indication – not to mention the 13 other hot ones since the turn of the century – the world needs trend-setters like North Cowichan’s mayor.

At an open house June 28 he showed a crowd of interested guests the ins and outs of installing solar panels, and presented his carefully kept tally of the benefits of tapping directly into the sun’s energy, rather than drawing power from the grid.

He installed 17 panels on the south facing slope of his garage roof. The project cost him $10,000 – which he said could be reduced by as much as 25 percent by joining in on bulk buying strategies.

For Lefebure buying the panels and a monitoring system, so he could effectively measure his usage and savings, were his main – in fact, almost his only costs.

A designer and home builder, he installed the system on his own. “I had never done an installation before and it took me three days,” he said. “I could probably do it in half the time now.”

Calculating your return on that investment is not so easy, though, if you’re looking only at the dollars and cents of it. From May 2014 to May 2015 Lefebure estimates he saved about $600 in power costs by replacing power from the grid with his home generated source, which generated 5,000 kilowatt hours.

That’s a 5.5 percent return on his investment. He points out, adding that the figures will only get better as electricity rates go up. In the meantime, “I was very happy to get that kind of a return, putting it on my roof,” he said.

Still, he thinks there’s room for BC Hydro to up the incentives a bit. “If BC Hydro wanted to encourage these things, they would add a few cents return and they would really take off,” he predicted.

The investment also gets better because solar panels need almost no maintenance and they come with a 25 year warranty. After 25 years their output may diminish, but they would still be producing free power, he said.

“Even if it was at half the efficiency, you would still be getting free power,” he said. “You would leave the first unit up and look for another spot for a second unit.”

How much power can the panels generate. Lefebure estimates his installation could power an electric commuter vehicle year-round. With improvements to the technology he figures the day will eventually come when going completely off grid is an option.

But for now there’s still the biggest payoff of all. “I start with the environmental motivation, but I’m really interested in the financial, because that’s what’s really going to motivate a lot of people,” he said.

“Yes, it’s going to make a return, but let’s look for the day when we’re not using gas or oil anymore, cause that’s the real payoff.”



Just Posted

CVRD to increase enforcement after audits reveal that curb-side recycling contamination in the district is well above acceptable limits. (File photo)
CVRD reports contamination in recyclables well above acceptable levels

Increased enforcement planned starting this summer

A conceptual rendering of the commercial plaza at 1130 Rocky Creek Road. (Town of Ladysmith/June 15 Council Agenda)
Rocky Creek commercial plaza passes public hearing

The proposed plaza at 1130 Rocky Creek Road would bring commercial activity to Ladysmith’s north end

Kate Cram and her team at Old Town Ice Cream are thrilled to be open for business. (Cole Schisler photo)
Old Town Ice Cream opens up right on time for summer

Located at 539 1st Avenue, Old Time Ice Cream is open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily

Things are looking up for Vancouver Island as zero COVID-19 cases have been reported for the first time since October. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Island records zero new COVID-19 cases for the first time since October

For the first time since October, the province is reporting zero new… Continue reading

Black Press file photo
RCMP seek suspect in Vancouver Island-wide crime spree

Crimes stretched from Deep Bay to Qualicum, Ladysmith, Chemainus and Youbou

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

Blair Lebsack, owner of RGE RD restaurant, poses for a portrait in the dining room, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. Canadian restaurants are having to find ways to deal with the rising cost of food. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Canadian restaurateurs grapple with rising food costs, menu prices expected to rise

Restaurants are a low margin industry, so there’s not a lot of room to work in additional costs

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
Fort St. John man arrested after allegedly inviting sexual touching from children

Two children reported the incident to a trusted adult right away

A Lotto 6/49 ticket purchased in Parksville for the June 19, 2021 draw is a $3M winner. (Submitted photo)
Winning Lotto 6/49 ticket worth $3M purchased on Vancouver Island

Lottery prize winners have 52 weeks to claim jackpot

Barbara Violo, pharmacist and owner of The Junction Chemist Pharmacy, draws up a dose behind vials of both Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines on the counter, in Toronto, Friday, June 18, 2021. An independent vaccine tracker website founded by a University of Saskatchewan student says just over 20 per cent of eligible Canadians — those 12 years old and above — are now fully vaccinated. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
At least 20% of eligible Canadians fully vaccinated, 75% with one dose: data

Earlier projections for reopening at this milestone didn’t include Delta variant

This undated file photo provided by Ernie Carswell & Partners shows the home featured in the opening and closing scenes of The Brady Bunch in Los Angeles. Do you know the occupation of Mike Brady, the father in this show about a blended family? (Anthony Barcelo/Ernie Carswell & Partners via AP, File)
QUIZ: A celebration of dad on Father’s Day

How much do you know about famous fathers?

Emily Steele holds up a collage of her son, 16-year-old Elijah-Iain Beauregard who was stabbed and killed in June 2019, outside of Kelowna Law Courts on June 18. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
Kelowna woman who fatally stabbed teen facing up to 1.5 years of jail time

Her jail sentence would be followed by an additional one to 1.5 years of supervision

Cpl. Scott MacLeod and Police Service Dog Jago. Jago was killed in the line of duty on Thursday, June 17. (RCMP)
Abbotsford police, RCMP grieve 4-year-old service dog killed in line of duty

Jago killed by armed suspect during ‘high-risk’ incident in Alberta

The George Road wildfire near Lytton, B.C., has grown to 250 hectares. (BC Wildfire Service)
B.C. drone sighting halts helicopters fighting 250 hectares of wildfire

‘If a drone collides with firefighting aircraft the consequences could be deadly,’ says BC Wildfire Service

Most Read