Thompson Rivers University

Trades assists in major solar project

September 21, 2016

Members of the group that helped to install the solar panels.

The Lower Nicola Indian Band made a significant investment into its future by launching a new community-owned solar power installation with the help of two TRU tradespeople.

Amie Schellenberg, an electrical instructor in the School of Trades and Technology and electrical student Tawny Fortier were members of the team involved in the installation—which is the largest community-owned solar power initiative in BC.

The project, a 300-panel rooftop solar array on the school gymnasium was a community partnership with the W Dusk Energy Group. It is designed to help power the community’s school and feed electricity back into the local grid.

“It was an excellent learning opportunity for me,” said Schellenberg.

“The best part is the feeling of pride I’ve had since the project wrapped up.I got to be a part of a flagship solar project in BC and the source of bragging rights for the Lower Nicola Indian Band.”

The idea of a solar energy project has been on the Band council’s agenda for a number of years and this partnership project seemed to be the perfect fit. It’s expected that the system will generate energy-cost savings for years to come. Excess energy will be fed into the local BC Hydro grid.

“The band is really stepping up to the plate and practicing what they preach in terms of Environmental Sustainability. Chief Aaron Sam is a visionary who takes action,” said Schellenberg. “I really feel like we are on the cusp of a huge wave here with Solar Energy and this project will be a benchmark for many years to come and many projects to come.”

The system falls under the power authority’s Net Metering program, meaning the Lower Nicola Indian Band can supply excess energy to the power grid and receive a credit on future bills.

“I really enjoyed the dynamic of the team, everyone was so much fun to work with. I learned lots and hope to continue more work in this field. Solar energy is something I feel passionate about because it has a such a positive impact on the environment as opposed to other energy sources,” said Fortier, who is an electrical apprentice.  

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