Solar Colwood expansion passes second try

After some rejigging, Colwood council has passed a previously rejected proposal to expand Solar Colwood's boundaries and time frame.

After some rejigging, City of Colwood council has passed a previously rejected proposal to expand the Solar Colwood program’s boundaries and timeframe.

Council has now approved extending the deadline of the program from March 2014 to March 2015. Also approved is an expansion of the program’s solar hot water heater grants to the entire Capital Regional District.

All changes must still be approved by Natural Resources Canada, the federal government agency which funds the majority of the program. The extensions are hoped to be in placed this fall.

Solar Colwood will be undergoing an audit by NRCan in September, another contingent of the expansion going ahead.

“Barring there being any issue that shows up in that audit, then there is consensus among the council to go forward,” Hamilton said.

The proposal was originally rejected by council because of some remaining questions over costs. Mayor Carol Hamilton said those concerns were cleared up and council now felt comfortable moving ahead.

“The report was rather skimpy. It lacked information and detail,” Hamilton said. “We needed to know that there were no further costs to the taxpayers.”

The solar hot water heater grants offer $3,000 to help homeowners pay for up to one-third of the cost for the heater, which can held households save on electricity costs.

The boundary expansion is in partnership with the CRD, which will take on region-wide marketing. A small administration fee will help Colwood recover any costs.

“When you’ve done something of this significance over such a lengthy period of time … it has to have a life after,” Hamilton said. “There were a lot of people from other areas that were looking at this program and wanting to know if they could get involved, and they couldn’t.”

The one-year extension is mainly to allow the Capital City Centre development and the two new high schools being built on the West Shore to use the program.

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