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Funding Powers Colwood Community Plan

Douglas Magazine, January 25, 2011

(News Release) COLWOOD — Today Minister of State for Sport and Saanich-Gulf Islands MP Gary Lunn announced a strategic investment of up to $3.9 million from the federal government's Clean Energy Fund for Solar Colwood, a comprehensive three-year program designed to lead the city to a clean energy future — a key objective of Colwood's award-winning official community plan.

The total program is valued at $12 million, representing a significant investment in the economy of Colwood and southern Vancouver Island. More than $2.3 million of the federal funding will go directly to Colwood homeowners and businesses in the form of incentives for clean energy and energy efficiency retrofits.

"Investing in clean energy technologies stimulates the growth of a domestic clean energy industry, creating high-quality jobs for Canadians," says Lunn. "Moving forward aggressively with investments in clean energy technologies will help us balance our need for energy with our need to protect the environment."

From clean energy demonstration projects to home retrofits, Solar Colwood is as much about job creation and economic development as it is about reducing energy and emissions.

"We are aiming to help retrofit up to 1,000 Colwood homes with solar hot water and other clean energy upgrades over the next three years," said Mayor David Saunders. "Solar Colwood incentives will cover a significant portion of the cost of installation of solar hot water heating. Our mission is to help residents and business owners achieve significant savings on their energy bills at a time when costs are on the rise."

Predominantly focused around solar thermal hot water heating, Solar Colwood also includes emerging technologies such as ductless split heat pumps, Smart Home/Smart Grid technologies, energy efficient/smart appliances, solar photovoltaics, geo-exchange, district energy solutions and electric vehicle charging infrastructure.

The project is expected to provide steady employment for eight to 12 full-time installers and several energy assessors, as well as additional work for contractors, as homeowners choose to take advantage of other energy retrofit opportunities, such as new windows. Colwood's Municipal Fire Hall will kick things off with the installation a solar hot water system to reduce its dependency on the use of natural gas for hot water heating for showers and washrooms. This system will be similar to those installed in homes, and will serve as an accessible demonstration site where people can drop by and learn more. The city also plans to install a small solar photovoltaic (PV) system on the fire hall roof to reduce electrical consumption and even feed some back into the hydro grid.

The re-development of Colwood Corners will provide another opportunity to demonstrate energy efficiencies in new construction. The first phase of League Assets' re-development includes a five-storey, 70-unit residential building over commercial space expected to break ground later this year, with completion of this phase by 2013. The federal funding will support a cost-shared approach to integrate solar thermal for hot water heating, highly energy-efficient appliances and lighting, as well as "Smart Home" technologies which provide real-time feedback on energy consumption. Colwood Councillor Judith Cullington wrote the federal grant application and has spearheaded the development of the many partnerships involved in Solar Colwood.

"This is a win-win-win for the residents of Colwood, the local economy, and the environment," says Cullington. "We are finalizing details so that the program will get up and running in the spring. It will be a wonderful opportunity for both residents and businesses, and I encourage anyone who is interested to contact City Hall or visit our website."

The project collaboration involves the city of Colwood, the T'Sou-ke Nation, Royal Roads University, Horizon Technologies, SolarBC, League Assets, the province of British Columbia, BC Hydro, Terasen Gas, and the WestShore Chamber of Commerce. Agreements with other partners are being finalized and will be announced at a future date.

The project also features several supporting elements, including a training program, community education and outreach, arts and culture, and applied research, monitoring, and reporting to be undertaken by Royal Roads University, along with the creation of a municipal utility partnership to continue the work of retrofitting existing housing stock as the project's Clean Energy Fund resources wind down. Learn more at www.solarcolwood.ca.


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