Solshare Energy, a project of Vancouver Co-Housing and parent company Vancouver Renewable Energy (VREC), officially launched BC’s first co-operatively (co-op) owned community solar project on Wed, March 30th at 1733 East 33 Ave in Vancouver, BC. The project consists of a 90-panel solar photovoltaic (PV) array with three-phase micro-inverters, generating 23 kWh annually, on the rooftops of Vancouver Co-Housing’s new 31 unit community. The project is tied to the grid, and was greenlit through BC Hydro’s Net Metering program. The project is unique in two key ways:
1) SolShare Energy is a co-op controlled corporation which enables BC residents
to invest in solar pv installations in their neighbourhoods, as an alternative to other ethical investment options. SolShare Energy was inspired by the many co-op owned renewable energy projects in Europe. Vancouver Co-Housing is SolShare Energy’s first project; others are in progress. BC residents can purchase shares in SolShare Energy and receive annual dividends of 3.3 – 4.0% based on the energy produced. The Vancouver Co-Housing project initially required a $2000 minimum purchase; Solshare Energy is lowering this level as more projects come online, with the ultimate goal of a minimum $50 purchase.
2) Vancouver Co-Housing is one of the first owners in BC to lease their solar pv array through VREC, the only BC company to offer this option for 20 – 100 kWh systems, a significant financial innovation in BC’s renewable energy sector. Lease lengths are typically 10 years with an option to renew; typical solar pv warranties are 25 years for 80% output, however array life can be up to 50 years.
Bullfrog Power has partnered with Solshare Energy to offer financing and equity for current and future projects. SolShare Energy’s launch was publicly supported by Andrea Reimer, Vancouver City Councillor and Dave Borins, Bullfrog Power and attended by representatives from Vancity, BC Hydro, Renewable Cities and BC Sustainable Energy Association.