A ribbon-cutting at Salmon Arm’s First United Church Wednesday was a tribute to solar energy, to community collaboration and to individual dedication. It was also both a happy and sad occasion.
The official launch of the church’s solar array, which had been up an running for a few days, took place Sept. 25. The 30-panel array is the result of a partnership between the Shuswap Solar Energy Society and the church’s First Community and GreenSpace.
Warren Bell, president of the society, said the long-awaited event marks the establishment of the town’s first community-owned solar array. It is officially called the Hugh Tyson Memorial Community Solar Array.
He explained Hugh Tyson was an important member of the society who has, “for many, many years been a tireless supporter, not only of renewable energy but just of taking care of the planet in general.”
Bell said Hugh passed away in the middle of the process of developing the project, so it seemed only appropriate to name it after him for all the hard work and dedication he demonstrated over so many years.
Before cutting the ribbon, Hugh’s spouse Diane said the moment was bittersweet.
“I am happy and deeply grateful to be present on this occasion… May it be the first of many solar and other renewable energy projects in our community.
“But it is sad, too, that Hugh is missing this wonderful moment. He would be so pleased to see this array up and running.”
She explained that since their move to Salmon Arm in 1997, it was Hugh’s passion to use his skills, knowledge and experience to raise awareness about threats to the environment – be it in regard to wetlands, water, clean air and, especially, to climate change.
“Like Greta Thunberg, he feared that our home – our Planet Earth – was on fire. In fact, as time went by he became increasingly anxious about it and frustrated that not enough was being done…
“But you, the Shuswap Solar Energy Society and First United Church GreenSpace, have actually done something about it. So there is no doubt in my mind that Hugh is here in spirit today, celebrating with us.”
Bell also thanked the church boards as well as Jenny Carter, church minister, who he said has been the prime contributor to their work as the society. He also noted Anne Morris has been a driving force, being principally responsible for organizing donations and contributions.
Joost de Bruijn of A+ Solar Solutions also received appreciations from Bell for being the installer who made the great idea happen. Also present to express appreciation for the solar array was Darryl Auten, board chair of First Community and Laurie Page, chair of the Nexus and GreenSpace board.
Morris said more than $31,000 was raised to build the array.
“How grateful I am to everyone who donated.”