Although solar panels reduce energy costs, their substantial initial cost has stopped many home owners from upgrading to this environmentally friendly energy source. The ELC has helped take a first step towards getting over this financial hurdle.
The idea is that the municipality would pay the upfront cost of solar panels then recover the costs over time from the property owners through a Local Area Service charge. The property owner benefits from reduced energy costs while avoiding the large upfront cost. And in the meantime, we are all benefiting from the reduced reliance on non-renewable energy sources.
On October 23, 2006, ELC student Emily Clough along with Nitya Harris from SolarBC and Matt Horne from the Pembina Institute presented this idea to the Central Saanich Municipality. The Municipality commissioned a legal report to study the feasibility of such a plan. On Jan 15, 2007, the ELC was pleased to receive a positive legal opinion from Lidstone, Young, Anderson, the province’s leading municipal law firm. The legal opinion concludes that a municipality would be able to use Local Area Service charges to finance solar panel energy projects. The legal opinion also indicates what technical details of ownership and maintenance should be addressed for such a project to go forward. Hopefully, this will be a positive step towards the increased installation of solar energy panels across the province.