2016-6-1 : Email to Bruce MacKenzie

Hi Bruce : Proline (our Property Manager) shared with us the system you have installed (see image below). I am studying potential solar heating (and wind) for our 36 unit condo, Hampshire House, next to the Oak Bay Beach Hotel.

We are keen to benefit from your expertise and experience. And to see if we can drive the costs down as you have done. Your website is excellent – thank you. http://www.bcsea.org/solar-on-strata

ProlineSolar (Large)

Some Paragraphs from The website


Each suite has its own electric baseboard heating on its own meter, but our common area electricity costs was $5,000 in 2014 for indoor and outdoor lights, the elevator, make-up air fans, laundry machines, and some hallway heating.

We have done the obvious lighting upgrades, taking part in the BC Hydro Product Incentive Program in 2009. There may be some more efficiency opportunities, such as LED lights or motion sensors in the hallways.

BC Hydro has announced price increases of about 17% over the next four years, after a rise of 9% in 2014.

Natural Gas

We have a 2006 central natural gas boiler supplying all hot water, and gas heated clothes dryers in our laundry room. Our natural gas bill is about $17K/year.
I’m expecting our gas cost to drop. Vancouver Island currently has a higher price than the rest of BC, but the BC Utilities Commission has approved a single rate across BC, to be implemented over the next few years, which will drop our rate by about 1/4 in relation to the rest of BC. In BC we pay market price for natural gas, so future prices are not nearly as predictable as electrical rates, but are expected to stay low in North America until the export of Liquefied Natural Gas begins – if that ever happens.

Solar Power

I’ve been an energy geek for years and a BCSEA member since 2004, so in 2011 I got a quote for solar hot water on our roof from Rob Barry at Island Energy. The cost was just over $70,000 (+taxes) for 20 flat panel collectors, tanks and pumps to run it all. I asked for a show of hands at our 2011 Annual General Meeting, and there was good support to pursue it more. At that time PV was too expensive.

PV Pricing and Output

As I learned in our April 2014 BCSEA Webinar on the future of solar PV in BC, PhotoVoltaic panel prices have been falling, so now they are economic in most of BC. Also, Dave Egles of HES-PV mentioned his ‘1100’ rule – in our part of BC, on average, a PV panel will generate 1,100 times its capacity in power each year – e.g. a 1 Kw panel will generate 1,100 kwh of electricity. This makes it really easy to calculate their energy output. I am using $3.00 / watt + GST as a completeinstallation cost for a 10 KW system, and a bit less for a 20 KW system.

I plan to keep the system small enough that it doesn’t generate more electricity than we use in a year, because the ‘net metered’ refund is higher than the price on extra power sold to BC Hydro.

– See more at: http://www.bcsea.org/solar-on-strata#sthash.a0gYak7S.dpuf


2015-5-13 : Response by Tyler Greene

Hi Bill,
Great talking with you this morning.  That’s higher usage than I anticipated on our call earlier. So, to put solar in economic perspective, here are some numbers you can bank on:
-In your particular location, one 260 watt solar panel generates a fairly steady 30 kWh per month.

Of the condo building uses $60,000 in power each year at $0.12/ kWh, that works out to about 41,667 kWh per month.

To break even on the building’s power, you would need around 360 kW of solar power on the roof if the condo building.

At a discounted price of $2.75 / watt (installation included), it would cost around $990,000 for the system.  Saving $60,000 per year on power would allow for a 16.5 year payback and 10-15 years of free power thereafter.

Now, you don’t have to go for the full net zero on your power – if you installed half the system, you’ll simply save $30,000 per year on power.  It scales quite nicely.

So those are larger numbers, but still a really nice savings.  We could probably have something like that installed within a few months.

I will let you know when I’m near Oak Bay next and we’ll have some coffee sometime.

Warm Regards,

Tyler Greene, CEO
ClearTech Solar
T. 855.531.8836
C. 778.587.7088

2016-5-13: Email to Victoria Solar Company – Cleartechsolar.com

13 May : I emailed tyler@cleartechsolar.com

Dear Tyler :  I found your website at http://www.cleartechsolar.com/#!about-us/b42ce

Very interesting. Thank you for giving me your advice over the phone.

I look forward to having you come around to see us at the condo and helping me prepare a proposal for the Condo Council.

Please consider giving us the following capability:

  • Breakeven – ie the only bill we’d like to pay is for the 100% financing (ie no bill to BC Hydro)
  • Approx $120,000
  • 15 year breakeven
  • 25-30 year life
  • Emergency automatic switch over – maybe power comes via batteries
  • Ability to continue power after earthquake or tsunami hits Victoria/Oak Bay

Our yearly BC Hydro Bill is $37,500. We have 36 units. My bill is typical for an owner resident – $124 – for period Nov 11 -> Jan 11 Basic : 62 days @ $0.17640 per day Usage 1277 kW.h @ $0.07970 /kw.h = $101.78

2015-4-13 : Oak Bay Microgrid

Oak Bay Microgrid is currently developing a community microgrid in the Oak Bay Beach Hotel neighborhood of Oak Bay. Community microgrids are a new approach for grid operations that achieve a sustainable, secure, and cost-effective energy system by providing long-term, locally generated power security prioritized for the community. Microgrids, have ability to separate from the larger electric grid during extreme weather events or other emergencies, providing the backbone for resilient, sustainable and more efficient energy production of the future.

The goals of the Oak Bay Microgrid projects:

  • Increase the amount of clean, renewable energy generated in the community by members of the community
  • Develop a connected network of distributed energy resources which will improve electrical grid resiliency and efficiency
  • Manage these distributed energy resources in times of power outages and emergencies to protect the community and local economy
  • Create financial incentives and business models that encourage community investment in their energy future, creating energy and jobs that boost the local economy

(This project is modeled upon the Brooklyn Microgrid Project)

Tyler :  FYI Grand total to BC Hydro each year

  • Common Areas : $37,500
  • 36 Units : $20,000 per year ($50 per month per unit) – COULD BE DOUBLE REALITY
  • Total Bill to BC Hydo per year = $60,000 per year (MaX)
  • Can the system measure the usage per unit, so people living abroad don’t feel they are carrying too much cost.
  • Perhaps we should split the financing bill between common area and units, and by unit according to usage. It would be nice to get an immediate reduction in each owners monthly bill (compared to old costs which was
  1. To BC Hydro by owner
  2. To council as percentage of the common area yearly cost