Tim Shell Jackson

Tim Shell Jackson

Condo owners pay out of pocket to install solar panels

A local condominium is one of the first on Vancouver Island to install solar panels on the roof — all out of residents' pockets.

A local condominium is one of the first on Vancouver Island to install solar panels on the roof — all out of residents’ pockets.

Residents of Central Park Strata (909 Pembroke St.) recently voted to spend their own funds to install 60 solar electric panels on the roof of the four-storey apartment building, which started generating power for some 100 residents last week.

“We wanted to join the solar revolution. There’s clearly a need for more local energy generation. It’s a beautiful building for solar panels because it has a flat roof and absolutely no shade,” said Bruce Mackenzie, president of the Central Park Strata.

As part of the $48,000-project, each suite pays on average $735. The electricity generated from the grid-tied panels feed into the strata’s electrical panel and have a maximum capacity of 14.7 kilowatts.

On the first day of testing, the panels were already generating 11.2 kilowatts.

“I’m very excited that it’s working, it’s been several months of planning and it’s lovely to have it running,” he said.

It was Mackenzie who originally brought forward the idea of installing solar panels at a strata annual general meeting three years ago.

“I just asked for a show of hands if anyone would be interested in solar power and almost everyone said ‘we’re interested. Find out more’,” he said

But the idea really took off in October, when the price of solar panels dropped, making it more economical.

Sarah Simmons, who has lived in the building since 2001, said a majority of residents voted for the project, reflecting how environmentally conscious building residents are.

“Quite a lot of the owners in this building are environmentally conscious, they are green, they are looking for a sense of what can we do to reduce or bills, but at the same time look after the environment,” she said. “The consensus of the owners was that it’s just the right thing to do.”

Mackenzie noted there aren’t any major downsides to switching to solar power and hopes other condominiums will consider switching too.

“There are dozens of similar buildings all over Vancouver Island and the mainland too, which could do just the same thing,” he said.

They expect the panels will generate about 16,000 kilowatt hours per year and save them $2,100 of the strata’s $6,000 electrical bill every year as well.