All posts by Brian Smallshaw

Aubrey Doobenen Wins Solar Scholarship

Aubrey DoobenenWe are pleased to announce that Aubrey Doobenen is the winner of this year’s Solar Scholarship, a $1550 award that comes from revenue earned through the solar array atop the Gulf Islands Secondary School. Aubrey will apply the scholarship towards his tuition at Camosun College where he is training to become an electrician. Aubrey is also working as an apprentice with Akerman Electric, and hopes to use his new skills to work in the field of solar energy.

Aubrey Doobenen Bio

I was born and raised on Salt Spring Island and I have recently graduated from Gulf Island Secondary School. I have been working full time with Akerman Electric as an apprentice and I am excited to attend Camosun College and work towards completing my red seal as an electrician.

I have a strong interest in renewable energy as I feel it is important to aim for a sustainable future. I look forward to being a part of the change as the future invests in the solar power industry. I enjoy music and have achieved level 4 Suzuki violin training as well as I play bass guitar. I’ve also played on soccer teams most of my life.


SD64 Electric School Bus Study

Electric School Bus Feasibility Study

Salt Spring Community Energy is excited to announce the release of its School District 64 (Gulf Islands) Electric School Bus Feasibility Study with the help of Quebec based electric bus manufacturer Lion Electric. The event will take place at the Public Program Room, Salt Spring Public Library on Friday, September 13 at 3pm.

Electric school buses are a vital part of creating a safer, healthier environment and a brighter future for our children, according to Salt Spring Community director Kjell Liem. Liem says, “the wide-spread recognition of our climate emergency, as the planet heats up from greenhouse warming, compels us to transition quickly from fossil fuel transportation to low or zero-emissions vehicles. School buses are ideal candidates for this transition. Reducing green house gases and eliminating the harmful effects of diesel exhaust around children provides a compelling argument for electric school buses.”

Salt Spring Community Energy, leaders in community-based renewable energy adoption and education, will release their much-anticipated Electric School Bus Feasibility Study for SD 64 Gulf Islands next Friday at the Salt Spring Public Library.

The Study can be downloaded from the link below:
SD64 Electric School Bus Study


Canadian-made Electric Schoolbuses!

Salt Spring Community Energy sent board director Kjell Liem to the Association Of School Transportation Services of BC (ASTSBC) 54th Annual Conference to learn more about the plans for Electric Vehicle School Bus adoption and what that means for School District 64.

The Clean BC Transportation team at the Ministry of Energy was in attendance and the consulting economist definitely had the province’s bus fleet on his radar to help meet the BC’s goal of a 60% emissions reduction from transportation by 2030. Also in attendance was a LION C, a Canadian-made electric school bus that was on its way to Sacramento, California.

Lion C on trailer Lion C motor Lion C charging Lion C charging Harrison

The CEG is now a society!

Jae Mather, Executive Director of Clean Energy BC, gave an excellent talk at the event to celebrate our launch as a society at GISS on November 8th. Many thanks to Bill Warriner at Salt Spring Live for shooting and sharing the video of the talk.

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SD64 board votes to support proposal for EV

Oct 16, 2018 Students in the Gulf Islands School District could be getting to school in a much greener way, after the school board voted to support in principle a proposal to bring in an electric school bus for the district.

The Salt Spring Community Energy Society proposed the project as a partnership between the two organizations. The society presented the proposal to the board at the Oct. 10 meeting on Mayne Island. The intention is to conduct a feasibility study that would be the basis for fundraising for and commissioning of the school bus. SS Community Energy will provide funds for the study.

“We’re willing to consider anything that reduces our carbon footprint,” said SD64 chair Rob Pingle. ‘The board was happy to approve the request. It’s going to take a lot of research and study to figure out if it works, but were willing to look into it.”

According to a letter sent to the school board from the society, transportation contributes the largest portion of the school board’s greenhouse gas output. The plan for an electric school bus would reduce pollution, improve children’s health as well as with fuel and maintenance costs.

“An electric school bus in the district will help to expand and show [the district’s] leadership and educational role in the community,” the letter read. “A district electric school bus will show that the district Is seriously moving toward a low-carbon, sustainable future.”

The district voted to support the request, which gives SS Community Energy the go-ahead to begin their feasibility study. Though the study is not a guarantee of acquiring a new bus, it does give the board the framework to move forward in the case of ministry funding.

“We would hope that the feasibility study would prepare us for the next time that we have access to funds from the province. We could consider taking on an electric bus and maintaining it,” Pingle said. “Helping ensure that we have the right information so that we can feel confident to take that move would be really helpful.”

SS Community Energy aims to present their findings to the board in early 2019. Their study will look at the appropriateness of the school bus on the islands, any regulations that may affect the project, different options for bus construction or acquisition and financial implications of the project.

Electric school buses are a relatively new concept for school districts. The idea already has traction in California, with multiple start-up companies building the vehicles. However, the Salt Spring proponents would have to ensure the bus’ feasibility on Salt Spring and in the Gulf Islands.

“There was a bit of nervousness [at the meeting] about whether a large electric school bus with 64 seats would ever be feasible,” Pingle said.

“At the same time, it’s the energy society that wants to do the work to figure that out and we would never stand in the way of that. It was more just speculation.”

The school board partnered with SS Community Energy in 2014 to install an 84-panel, 21 kW solar array at Gulf Islands Secondary School. The energy savings have been used to create scholarships for students.

BY MARC KITTERINGHAM Gulf Islands Driftwood Staff