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Beach Triangle Residents Association

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The Beach Triangle Residents Association, Toronto, Ontario

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"Beach Solar" Formed

By John Ellis

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A group of Beach neighbourhood residents have formed Beach Solar, an initiative to aid Beach residents and businesses to cost effectively adopt environmentally sensitive methods for improving energy efficiency. The BTRA has been participating in these meetings, recognizing the opportunity for Triangle residents and businesses. Inspired by LiveGreen Toronto animator, Martina Rowley, the group of seven has been meeting since late spring 2009 and have now moved to launch demonstration projects.

The group has decided that the geographic focus will be the area below Gerrard, from Coxwell to Victoria Park, but anyone in Wards 31 and 32 are welcome. The goal is to enroll 50 projects of either solar hot water or solar photovoltaic electric systems within six months. Although the group will help with information on any area of energy conservation, including tree planting and green roofs, the focus will be on solar electricity generation. A major driver in pursuing solar projects is the recent announcement that Ontario Power will pay 80.2 cents per kilowatt-hour for solar-generated electricity. One Beach homeowner, who has installed a comprehensive system, says at this price solar generated electricity is guaranteed to pay for itself. Rooftop systems can cost between $10,000 and $40,000, depending on how much generation is required and which supplier is chosen, but solar panels are now routinely performing 35-40 years, require no maintenance, and net income could begin as early as within 11-14 years.

If you compare an investment in solar electricity generation to Canada Savings Bonds, the overall return on investment is about the same, but with the added benefit of saving about 10,000 kg of greenhouse gases from reaching the atmosphere, and making the Beach a more sustainable place to live.

There is increasing evidence that these systems add property value to a home, condo or business. Grants and tax benefits now considerably reduce costs, and Beach Solar will seek lenders who could finance such projects at a favourable rate.

Demonstration projects Beach Solar has under consideration include portable solar panels to generate lighting for a skating rink or the tree lighting at Kew Gardens or along the boardwalk. Watch for these interesting initiatives in December. Discussions are also under way with organizations that might be amenable to demonstrations, such as Community Centre 55 or the Balmy Beach Club. Local school resources and initiatives are being explored for tie in with Beach Solar projects.

Operationally, the Beach Solar group intends to be a facilitator bringing interested Beachers in contact with reliable suppliers and knowledgeable information centres to ensure the best possible outcomes. The group will work with the Toronto Renewable Energy Co-operative ('TREC') to capitalize on their extensive experience in this area. Rather than try to select one solar panel supplier, the group will provide interested parties with a list of suppliers that TREC has qualified, to enable competitive quotes.

Beach Solar has opened a web site, beachsolar.ourpower.ca, accessed through beachsolar.org with many improved features. You're invited to visit the web site, let us know what you think, what concerns or questions you have, and note the upcoming meeting dates. The more, the merrier!