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When is the Right Time for Renewables?

If like me, you are a product of the fifties then you are also a Boomer and may have witnessed some notable events like the introduction of the Canadian Bill of Rights, the Avro Arrow briefly taking to the skies and Terry Fox bravely hitting the pavement, Expo 67 and our centenary.

It was a period when we all felt empowered by the effectiveness of civil disobedience.  We carried the fervour of anti-Vietnam War protests to our own backyard against the Amchitka Nuclear Tests.

Defining moments in our recent history.

Back then the overreaching concerns, two global issues that touched us all were the very real and terrifying concept of the Population Explosion and the sense of urgency to do something proactive about the evident decline of the stewardship towards our shared environment.

Green Peace Arctic Sunrise
Green Peace Arctic Sunrise

Why should any of this matter?

It matters because these issues haven’t gone away and their persistence is a kind of a report card on the Boomer’s success as resource managers of this planet.

If for example, we were as successful at understanding the fundamentals of exponential growth as we are at manipulating compound interest we would not be faced with the current dilemma of how seven billion humans can effectively share and manage the resources of the planet.

If we were as successful at managing our planet’s flora, fauna, and natural resources as we are at exploiting them then Green Peace frankly, would no longer exist.

So why did it take until now, when we can better estimate the finite inventory of precious fossil fuels remaining underground, to consider renewable energy as an affordable and viable alternative?

Compared to solar, wind, and tidal energy production, the oil & gas companies don’t put the effort into intensive mining, drilling, extracting, processing, transporting, and distributing fossil fuels because it is the path of least resistance. They do so because of profit. Greed at the expense of doing what is right. Besides, if labour is cheap enough does it really matter the amount of effort? Take the Great Pyramid or the Great Wall for example.

Curious that solar, wind and tidal exploration does not require exploratory leases to identify profitable patches of sunlight, strong breeze or coastline. Curious too that solar photovoltaic energy panels can harvest sunlight with no moving parts that require lubricating.

Solar Array at Farmersdotter Organics
Solar Array at Farmersdotter Organics

Question is, do we leave the remaining inventory of fossil fuel in the ground to be managed and admired like the  Giant Panda in the wild or like the Northern White Rhino, do we hunt it to the brink of extinction? Because let’s face it, fossil fuel supply is finite so it is not a question of if we adopt renewable energy but simply a matter of when.

Well, the time is ripe. Renewable energies are inevitable, affordable and simply the right thing to do. I just turned sixty and know there is never a wrong time to do the right thing.

Failing Grade
Failing Grade

Unfortunately, the best any Boomer can take home from all this is a grade of C- for resource management and an F for effort.  But my grade school teacher would note there is always room for improvement.

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We are up and running smoothly with farmersdotter Studio Guesthomes. We are enjoying hosting guests, entertaining, and the stimulating conversation that comes with meeting new friends. There are two guest houses available to visitors, one we refer to Osprey and the other is called Owl. Both named for the birds of prey that frequent the property.


Owl Exterior
Owl Exterior

However, we are not one-hundred per cent complete. A few tasks have yet to be completed but nothing that will interfere with the overall experience of a staycation on the farm.

I am looking forward to writing a post mortem, a treatise to substantiate the completion of an activity that has consumed the past fourteen months of our lives.  I’m not convinced ‘complete’ is a concept fully embraced by the trades.

Osprey Interior
Osprey Interior

Here is the deal in one word: Patience

Underlined, italicized in bold and straight up in your face. Do not go past go without burning that word into the gray matter. Patience. And now, visualize a lineup of exclamation marks posterior waving stop signs like a coked-up bare-foot flag person on hot pavement.

Osprey Kitchenette
Osprey Kitchenette

Here is my issue: professionals adhering to my timeline. There is no doubt, as in our case, contractors of repute are capable, trustworthy and have the best intentions but simply stated shit happens.

Owl Deck
Owl Deck

When you commit to a project of hard hats and steel toed boots your challenge on a daily basis becomes one of controlling the amount of pooh that can rapidly develop. That and fostering a tolerance for excuses. Everything from natural disasters of biblical proportions to an uncanny regular occurrence of back, neck, shoulder, and bowel discomfort to family crisis and hangovers. Not to mention other ongoing construction needs taking resourses away from your project.

Owl Kitchenette
Owl Kitchenette

So here is my postmortem post but first I shall clear up a few projects. All I ask for is your patience.






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Running Backward. As it Should.

A bespoke grid-tie solar system is a good thing to do if your priority is balancing electrical consumption with production. For our farm in Cawston, Argon Electrical & Solar Services Inc. of Oliver BC designed a solar photovoltaic panel array to generate more electricity during peak production times than we consume.

Full Array
Array at Farmersdotter

Instead of storing the excess electricity onsite it is fed back into the utility grid where its value can be credited back during times when the capacity to produce electricity is deficient.

As we enter summer in the Similkameen Valley, our energy production is balancing the coming winter demands and the meter is smartly running backward. As it should.

After twelves months we will realize a net zero effect on the calculated hydro we consume. Returning electricity to the grid and loonies to our pocket. We’ll see. All is good.

Every time we discuss this project the topic returns to cost.

Is the expense worth it?

Definitely. Especially if we were younger because the cost recovery is less than twenty years and the warranty of the PV array, inverters, and software is twenty-five years.

Farmersdotter Inverters

The system was not cheap to install yet cheaper than just a short time ago.

And installation will get less expensive as technology becomes more efficient and hydro rates increase. We can imagine a realistic cost recovery at fifteen years or less in the near future. #NoBrainer

Case in point, since we decided last year to green light this project a recent hydro rate increase coupled with a cost decrease per kWh on hardware has shaved sixteen months off our cost recovery estimate.


But you’re not a youngster so is the expense still worth it?

Well, I would hope so but I bet right now someone is taking odds.

For us to properly evaluate the worth of the project, which goes beyond system components, we include the environmental benefits. Obviously then yes, the project is still worth it regardless of our age and cost recovery timeline.

It is the right thing to do.

Reducing carbon footprint is vital. Giving back and in this case selling back is an elegant solution in the pursuit to achieve balance. To become as much producer as the consumer. That feels good.

Besides, projects like this are attractive to some lenders and can be financed making your commitment similar to what you currently pay for hydro.

Ground Mount
Ground Mount

There you go. Do it. #VoteWithYourWallet

We won’t bore you with the nuts-n-bolts details for this project but add to the discussion with your comments and questions below. This stuff is important and if we can help you decide to go #ZeroNet then we continue to balance out. All good.