Dyer: Getting Okanagan lakeshore properties off natural gas

Dyer: Getting Okanagan lakeshore properties off natural gas

Kristy Dyer is a columnist for Black Press Media who writes about the environment

Wouldn’t it be great to get all of our lakeshore properties off natural gas or electricity for heating and cooling?

The original “One Block” concept wasn’t for geoexchange but for solar photovoltaics: One Block Off The Grid (elegantly abbreviated 1BOG) was a company founded in 2008 in San Francisco. 1BOG was a solar company that arranged PV installations. They removed pain points: the trouble with installing any renewable energy system is overhead and upfront cost.

READ MORE: Residential energy retrofits necessary for Kelowna to meet emissions targets

Overhead in the industry is the difference between doing a hundred homes at once and one home at a time, over and over a hundred times. Solar installers love to get bulk orders and schedule jobs back-to-back and a large job allows the company to order panels in larger numbers at lower prices.

The 1BOG logo was initially called Plugman but turned into Bogman.

The upfront cost is the thousands of dollars a homeowner has to have available at the beginning of the installation (for solar photovoltaics or geoexchange systems). It is paid back over several years in lower energy bills (an investment comparable to the stock market) but many homeowners haven’t saved the cash, or don’t want to deplete their savings.

1BOG did two things: they rounded up all the families in an area who wanted to install solar, creating a bulk order and they arranged for low interest financing so that the upfront payment was $1000 rather than $13,000.

READ MORE: The First United Church installed 30 solar panels on its roof

Ironically, “One Block Off The Grid” didn’t actually remove houses from the electrical grid. Why not? The electric grid functions as the greatest battery ever made. Batteries are heavy and expensive, although they get better every year. BC Hydro’s net metering system allows you to bank energy when you make more than you need, and if your annual total is in your favor, once a year they pay you 9.99 cents per kilowatt for your extra contribution.

(This is good, but not great. You are paying them 10.799¢ per kWh and in some places in North America you would get market rate plus a “feed in tariff” which rewards you for installing renewable energy.)

READ MORE: City of Revelstoke company owes millions

1BOG worked like a cross between Girl Guide cookies, Jehova’s Witnesses and Avon. They recruited volunteers to go door-to-door in neighborhoods. They threw Renewable Energy Parties. And of course, being from California, they used Facebook. Once they had commitments from homeowners, they turned around and recruited solar installers to bid on the job and credit unions to provide low-interest financing. Their first trial in California put solar on 42 houses. They went on to operate 15 large US cities. Oddly enough, the Canadian-US brain drain operated backwards for 1BOG. They were purchased in 2012 by Pure Energies Group of Toronto and have quietly disappeared.

But the 1BOG concept still holds: if we could get enough houses on Okanagan lakes to commit to geoexchange heating and cooling, we could negotiate a bulk price for geoexhange and have each lake ringed by homeowners committed to the environment – and paying almost nothing on their power bill.

Missed a column?

Dyer: What should you do with the climate action plan?

About Kristy Dyer:

Kristy Dyer has a background in art and physics and consulted for Silicon Valley clean energy firms before moving (happily!) to sunny Penticton. Comments to Kristy.Dyer+BP@gmail.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Felix Haase and Jayme Saretzky staff a pop-up booth to support the Salmon Arm Pride Project on the patio of the newly reopened Wild Craft Mercantile at 121 Shuswap St. on Saturday, June 12, 2021. (Martha Wickett - Salmon Arm Observer)
Wild Craft Mercantile in Salmon Arm holds grand reopening, celebrates Pride month

Store moves from Lakeshore to Shuswap, demonstrates support for Pride project

A City of Salmon Arm vacuum truck cleans out the city storm drain on Hudson Avenue in Salmon Arm Monday morning, June 14 after a crane truck blew a hydraulic line, spewing oil onto the road. (Martha Wickett - Salmon Arm Observer)
Fire trucks called to small oil spill in Salmon Arm

Traffic delayed on Hudson Avenue Monday morning after crane truck blows hydraulic line

Tim Gibson joined the Shuswap Children’s Association on June 14, 2021. He is taking over the executive director position as June Stewart is retiring on June 30, 2021. (File photo)
New executive director joins Shuswap Children’s Association

Outgoing executive director June Stewart to retire on June 30, 2021

The Great Ogopogo Bathtub Race has been held in Summerland as a fundraising event. Do you know which Canadian city introduced this sport? (Black Press file photo)
QUIZ: A summer’s day at the water

How much do you know about boats, lakes and water?

Cody Bandsma practises kiting with his new paraglider wing at Blackburn Park on Wednesday, June 9, 2021. (Lachlan Labere-Salmon Arm Observer)
VIDEO: Cody Bandsma reaching new heights over Salmon Arm

Former 100 Mile resident discovers Shuswap by air with powered paraglider

Singer-songwriter Jann Arden is pictured with a draft horse. (Canadian Horse Defence Coalition)
Jann Arden backs petition to stop live horse export

June 14 is the International Day to End Live Export of Animals

(Dave Ogilvie photo)
One injured after being pinned by fallen forklift near Peachland

West Kelowna emergency crews responded to reports of a person stuck under a forklift

Penticton Overdose Prevention Society co-founders Desiree Franz, Shane Surowski and Stephanie Lines have created the city’s first unsanctioned public overdose prevention site using an old wine-tour bus. The site began operations in June 2021. (Desiree Franz/Facebook)
Volunteers launch Penticton’s first public supervised injection site

2021 is on pace to be the deadliest year for overdoses in Penticton on record

Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick, assistant deputy speaker at the B.C. legislature, presides over committee discussions. The legislature is completing its delayed spring session this week, with most MLAs participating by video conference. (Hansard TV)
B.C.’s daily COVID-19 infections dip below 100 over weekend

Only 68 new cases recorded Monday, four additional deaths

B.C. ambulance station in Revelstoke is expected to get a new system called the Scheduled On-Call (SOC) this fall. (Liam Harrap - Revelstoke Review)
B.C. ambulance changes could put Revelstoke residents at risk, warn local paramedics

Paramedics said to expect a substantial increase in ambulance response time starting this fall

This goose family went for a leisurely stroll down Vernon’s Main Street Saturday, April 25. (Dave Deshane photo)
Controversial Vernon goose cull won’t fly this year

Necessary permit procedures held up at a federal level

Mounties cover a burgundy truck with a tent at Buckerfields in West Kelowna on Monday, June 14. The RCMP is investigating after a woman’s body was found inside the truck. (Amandalina Letterio/Capital News)
West Kelowna RCMP investigating suspicious death after body found in truck

Police responded to a truck parked out front of a Main Street business where the body was found

The BC Ferries website went down for a short while Monday morning following a provincial announcement that recreational travel between health authorities can resume Tuesday. (Black Press Media file photo)
BC Ferries’ website crashes in wake of provincial reopening announcement

Website back up now, recreational travel between health regions to resume as of Tuesday

The Kamloops Indian Residential School is photographed using a drone in Kamloops, B.C., Monday, June, 14, 2021. The remains of 215 children were discovered buried near the former school earlier this month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Communities grapple with what to do with former residential and day schools

Some tear them down as a tool to help healing, others repurpose them as tools for moving forward

Most Read