Category Archives: News

Media for Salt Spring Community Energy and the Solar Scholarship project

Salt Spring Island school warms up to solar


Electrical engineer Will Andrew, left, installer Lane Gromme and project manager Kjell Liem install solar panels on the roof of Gulf Islands Secondary School. The 21-kilowatt project went live in December.   Photograph By Ron Watts, Photo courtesy of ronwattsphoto
Electrical engineer Will Andrew, left, installer Lane Gromme and project manager Kjell Liem install solar panels on the roof of Gulf Islands Secondary School. The 21-kilowatt project went live in December. Photograph By Ron Watts, Photo courtesy of ronwattsphoto


When a Salt Spring Island community group took on the task of bringing solar power to a local high school, it wasn’t just the students they hoped to reach.

“We wanted to show that the technology was mature and even a small community can implement it,” said Kjell Liem, project manager for the Salt Spring Community Energy Group.

The 84 solar photovoltaic panels covering the Gulf Islands Secondary School gym roof went live in December. It is the largest school-based solar array in B.C., according to B.C. Hydro, and the seventh largest overall.

Although the 21-kilowatt project will cover only a portion of the school’s electricity needs, the money the school saves on its energy bill will support an annual $2,000 scholarship for a graduating student planning to study renewable energy or climate change.

The energy saved is roughly equivalent to the typical consumption of two single-family homes, Liem said.

“We were mostly interested in the educational opportunities of something that would benefit the kids, because they’re the ones who ultimately have to respond to climate change,” he said.

The learning opportunity goes beyond the scholarship, said School District 64 superintendent Lisa Halstead.

“I think it’s an absolutely terrific project,” Halstead said. “Not only does it provide energy and scholarships for our students, but we can also use it as a teaching tool in the district.”

School principal Lyall Ruehlen said it’s one of several projects at the school encouraging sustainability. The school has a greenhouse, as well as a “living lettuce wall” that grows produce for the cafeteria’s salad bar.

Working with the school’s chef in the greenhouse is an elective program, he said.

While students in the school’s environmental club were involved in crafting the initial solar proposal to the school board and educating the rest of the school about the project, others became interested as they saw the panels being installed.

“It really happened when you could see our maintenance personnel, staff members and groups of students actually helping out. That’s when other students would get interested — ‘Hey, what’s so-and-so doing over there?’ ” Ruehlen said. “The days would go by and you’d actually start to see progress.”

The $100,000 project was funded through donations, grants and other contributions, including $5,000 from the Salt Spring Island Foundation, $20,000 from Bullfrog Power and $9,700 from the Carbon Neutral Capital Program. Other donors include Windsor Plywood, the local Lions Club and the Raging Grannies.

© Copyright Times Colonist


BCHydro features the Solar Scholarship

Salt Spring’s ‘Solar high’ gets power, and a scholarship, from sun

solar-high-school-full-width-peoplePutting energy savings into scholarship key to fundraising for solar panels

An array of 84 solar photovoltaic panels on the gym roof of Gulf Islands Secondary School isn’t just helping power the school. It’s powering advanced education in the form of an annual $2,000 scholarship.

And that’s not in any way just a feel-good by-product of the 21-kilowatt solar power project. It’s what sets the project apart, and is arguably what made the whole thing possible. Continue reading BCHydro features the Solar Scholarship

Funding Partnership Annoucement

Bullfrog Power Partners with Transition Salt Spring Community Energy Group And School District 64 to Create Solar Scholarship for BC High School Grads

Bullfrog Power commits up to $20,000 in matching donations

Vancouver, August 12, 2014—Bullfrog Power, Canada’s leading green energy provider, and Transition Salt Spring Community Energybfp_logo Group have partnered to help fund the development of a rooftop solar installation of the Gulf Islands Secondary School (GISS) on Salt Spring Island, British Columbia. When built, the installation will be the largest school-based solar photovoltaic array in British Columbia. Continue reading Funding Partnership Annoucement

Canada Day, 2014 Salt Spring Island

Big Cheque2This giant cheque is a gift for the Solar Scholarship project. The donors are Elizabeth May, Stephen Roberts (Salt Spring BC Liberals), Gary Holman, Green Party EDA, SS Friends of the NDP, Pharmasave, and Vince and Maggie Argiro. In the photo Vince has just added another $3,000 to their gift. This is after raising it by $2,000 at the Renewable Energy Conference in April where they launched the matching donations fund. The total on the big check should have read $22,500, but then it wouldn’t have been a surprise!

More Solar Support

I would like to thank Irene Wright of the Salt Spring
NDP Club for her letter to the editor of May 21
highlighting the ongoing fundraising campaign for the
GISS Solar Scholarship Project.

In her letter, Mrs. Wright challenges members of
other political parties to meet or beat her club’s continuing
support. On behalf of the BC Liberals of Salt
Spring Island, I would like to accept the challenge. Continue reading More Solar Support