Fortis BC plans huge solar project


A B.C. utility firm has applied to the B.C. Utilities Commission to build a community solar array that, if approved, would be B.C.’s largest utility-led community solar project to date. Fortis BC’s Ellison Community Solar Pilot Project is planned as a 240-kilowatt solar array composed of 720 panels located north of Kelowna on property owned by FortisBC, adjacent to an existing substation.

If approved, the project is designed to provide FortisBC customers an opportunity to meet a portion of their energy needs with solar and support the development of an alternate energy option, reported the company. Its aim is to serve customers who are interested in solar, but the up-front cost, placement, operation or maintenance of a rooftop system is not desirable or feasible.

It’s an pilot project for FortisBC because it will provide an opportunity to gauge customer interest and gather important information on the installation, operation and maintenance of community solar arrays.

Under the proposed rate program, called Virtual Solar, anyone who holds a FortisBC electric account and a communicating advanced meter can rent solar panels from FortisBC on a monthly basis and receive electricity credits for the energy produced. The rental fee is fixed for as long as the customer is in the program. Both homeowners and renters can participate. They can remain in the program even if they move their account to a different property.

The final submission on the Ellison project will be sent to the Utilities Commission Oct. 5 with a final decision expected before the end of this year.

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