Friday, August 7, 2009

SEG : Smart Energy Group

I recently had the opportunity to attend a wonderful celebration hosted by the T'Sou-ke Nation on the South end of Vancouver Island. This celebration marked the completion of their 75 KW solar photo-voltaic and solar hot water installations. It was a beautiful sunny day and you could actually watch the electric meters spinning backwards as the tribe sold clean, renewable electrical power to BC Hydro for the rest of us to use. In addition to a tour of the solar installations, the T'Sou-ke band provided visitors with a feast of salmon from their native fishery and vegetables from their organic farm.

From project conception to completion took less than 1 year. To put this in perspective, it has taken me 8 months to connect our first solar panel and a community group in Duncan has been working for 2 years on a project that would provide solar hot water for 25 households. Currently they are still in negotiations and no systems have been installed. Members of the T'Sou-ke nation were trained in the installation and operation of the alternative energy systems and they performed most of the installations. This included all the band offices and more than half (over 40 homes if I remember correctly) of the houses in the community. The other half should be completed soon. They have now formed the Smart Energy Group to provide assistance and education on issues related to energy conservation, energy security and alternative energy to other native bands - and to the rest of us.

All in all, it is an amazing success story. Clean energy, energy security, green-collar employment, economic development, income from power sales and so on.

As the free Smart Energy Group T-shirts remind us, the T'Sou-ke people have been "Providing Environmental Education to Southern Vancouver Island since 10,000 BCE.

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