All posts by Brian Smallshaw

Kiran Pillay Wins 2023 Solar Scholarship

We are pleased to announce that this year’s winner of the Salt Spring Community Energy Solar Scholarship is Kiran Pillay. As part of his high school final Capstone project, Kiran built a model solar home and kept a blog of the project to share what he learned with others. In the coming year he will pursue a number of internships before beginning university studies in the Fall of 2024, pursuing a degree in humanities with courses in environmental studies and alternative energy.

Kiran Pillay – Bio

I grew up on Salt Spring Island and have recently graduated from Gulf Islands Secondary School. My
interests include robotics, playing violin, photography, swim team and reading. I’m taking a GAP year
to work, travel and do an internship with Fulbright Canada and the Global Center of Indigenomics
before beginning post secondary studies in September 2024. I will be studying the humanities and will
be including courses in environmental studies and alternative energy in my degree.

I have a keen interest in sustainable energy. For the past two years, I’ve been researching solar panel
technology for my high school final Capstone project. As part of this project I built a model solar
house, a blog of my learning and made a final Solar Energy Capstone slideshow to demonstrate what I
had learned. I’m hoping that I’ll have a career in sustainability, and that humanity will have a
sustainable future.

First electric school bus on Salt Spring roads

Gulf Islands Driftwood
January 11, 2023

Saltspring‘s First Electric Schoolbus
The first students to ride School District 64’s new electric bus on Salt Spring arrive at GISS on Jan. 3.

The bus fleet at Gulf Islands School District (SD64) officially began its transition to electrification after the winter break, as driver Rick Neufeld safely delivered the first students to Gulf Islands Secondary School at 8:37 a.m.Tuesday, Jan. 3, on SD64’s new fully electric school bus.

District director of facilities, capital projects and transportation Colin Whyte said the bus would continue to run Route 6, which serves high school, Salt Spring Elementary and Phoenix Elementary students and runs chiefly along Long Harbour and Mansell roads. Once the district’s second electric bus is in service, it would pick up and delivers tudents on Route 2.

“We’re still working on the big charger installs,” said Whyte, who said they were waiting on parts to have the charging system fully operational. “Once we get that installed we can run both buses. But we can run one to start, and we won’t have to burn any more diesel — at least for one route.”

A feasibility study done in 2019 estimated a full transition to electric school buses would eventually save the district some $50,000 each year in fuel and maintenance costs. To facilitate the shift from diesel, the district is installing 20-kilowatt “Level 3” DC fast chargers; these will generally be charging buses during the day in between runs, as well as overnight.

“It’s got enough kick to keep the buses charged, even if we bring them down to almost nothing,” said Whyte.

In addition to not burning fossil fuels — or emitting exhaust — the buses are significantly quieter than the diesel vehicles they’re replacing. But Whyte said the new bus wouldn’t be sneaking up on any unsuspecting pedestrians.

“Below 30 kilometres per hour, it has a noisemaker on it, so people can hear it coming,” said Whyte. “It turns off above 30 because the tires are making enough noise to be heard.”

SD64 has said the district plans to gradually replace its diesel bus fleet with electric buses as existing vehicles age beyond service requirements.

“Seeing students riding the first electric bus in the SD64 bus fleet is heartening,” said superintendent Scott Benwell.“It shows the district’s commitment to a reduced carbon footprint and is but one step in the overall adjustments to operations that will be necessary in the years to come.”

First electric school bus on Salt Spring roads _ Gulf Islands Driftwood

First electric school bus on Salt Spring roads

SSCE Partners with IWAV for Massive Solar Development

SSCE provided technical expertise for the Croftonbrook solar project. We also provided project oversight, digital recording of the installation and will assist with the installation of education monitors in the buildings. We developed a Request For Proposal (RFP) process to select the solar energy contractor and assisted with funding development.

Saltspring Exchange article

Continue reading SSCE Partners with IWAV for Massive Solar Development

Alexander Croft Wins 2022 Solar Scholarship

We are pleased to announce that this year’s winner of the Salt Spring Community Energy Solar Scholarship is Alexander Croft, who will be pursuing a degree in mechanical engineering at UBC starting this fall. His goal is to design more efficient, more sustainable systems and machines, helping to combat the climate crisis and moving away from fossil fuels.

Alexander Croft – Bio
My name is Alexander Croft, and I am a graduate of the GISS class of 2022. I will be attending UBC Engineering in September, which is a natural progression from my passion in math and the sciences at high school. As an active member of my local community I am a volunteer with the local Royal Canadian Marine Search And Rescue station on Pender Island and a bagpipe player in the Pender Highlanders Pipe and Drum band. I have played soccer throughout my time at GISS on the senior boys teams as well as in the Vancouver Island Premier League. I am a SCUBA diver and am passionate about protecting the environment. I hope to apply a degree in Mechanical Engineering to improve renewable energy systems and machines to play a part in fighting climate change.


SD64 to get Electric School Buses

The Salt Spring Community Energy Society is gratified that the electric school bus study that we undertook a few years ago seems to have been a catalyst for the adoption of a electric school buses by the local school district.

SD64 makes electric bus choice

Minor bus route changes also on Salt Spring for next school year



May 25, 2022

The Gulf Islands School District (SD64) will be making changes in transportation this fall, hoping to bring in a new bus route on Mayne Island serviced by an electric bus and downsizing to seven buses on Salt Spring Island.

Exactly when the district’s first electric bus will start operating on Mayne depends on global supply chains hampered by the COVID-19 pandemic, the district’s secretary-treasurer Jesse Guy explained. The same goes for two other electric buses ordered this spring, destined to replace two diesel buses on Salt Spring.

The 45-minute, 25-kilometre Mayne Island run will serve around 20 students, with the exact route still to be determined.

The school board has committed to phasing in electric buses as their diesel buses reach the end of their useful life. The education ministry covers bus replacement costs, with the district committed to covering the difference in cost of around 50 per cent more for an electric bus.

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