Sunshine in Your Mind
Rhonda Lee McIsaac
From 2007, Spark! Sustainable Energy Solutions has installed about 60 kilowatts of energy production capacity around Haida Gwaii. This renewable energy powers infrastructure all across the Islands including the Gaw Youth Centre, T’aalan Stl’ang, Hl’yaalan ‘Llngee Hiellen, Taaw Tow Hill, the Daajing Giids Village Office, and Watchmen cabins all the way down to SGang Gwaay.
“It’s not a huge amount but we have seen a big spike of interest over the past 12 months and installations are starting to pick up considerably,” says Spark! owner, Meredith Adams.
Renewable energy is derived from natural processes like the conversion of energy from sunlight into electricity. Renewable energy is replenished at a rate that is equal to or faster than the rate at which it is consumed.
Ms. Adams started Spark! in 2007 and since then the company has acquired an important place in sustainable and economical energy solutions. Adams is filling a niche and the company is growing. Four years ago, she was joined by primary electrician Brendan Hallihan.
“It’s an exciting time to be in solar,” says Adams on a particularly sunny Spring day. “It’s becoming more affordable, can be easily installed and is becoming more appealing with the rise in electricity prices!” she says, adding that the new solar panels are really low-maintenance.
Installations not only provide power to buildings but also provides data to show how well solar works in different locations. This data will help inform the viability of future installations and assist others in making the decision to go solar.
Gaw’s Youth Centre installation was a first for the community and was completed in conjunction with Swiilawiid Sustainability Society.
“We hired local people for the installation and the youth were involved as well,” said Adams. “There was a good turnout for the unveiling.”
The Youth Centre’s panels are tied into the hydro grid, enabling the Centre to monitor their energy output, see the amount of energy they use, and the amount they put back into the grid. Selling energy back to BC Hydro offsets the Youth Centre’s energy costs.
Renewable energy is a growing industry and a job-maker says Adams. “We’re always looking for people who want to learn,” she says and through her small business she wants to mentor and train people to do more installations. This will help ease the burden of relying on fossil fuels and provide jobs through alternative energy solutions that harness the wind and sun!