Osoyoos Residents Cut Hydro Bills with Solar!

Argon Solar are so excited to help yet another home in the South Okanagan reduce hydro bills with solar!

Reduce hydro bill with solar

The following article appeared in The Osoyoos Times, September 24th, 2014:

Most Osoyoos residents only see their electricity meters move in one direction – forward to measure the electricity they consume.

Paul McCavour has been excitedly showing visitors that his electricity meter runs backwards ever since he installed 24 solar panels on the hillside above his house this summer.

When the sun is shining, or even when it’s cloudy and bright, those panels are feeding electricity into the provincial electricity grid rather than drawing from it.

McCavour and his wife Julie Turner have long been trying to lead an environmentally friendly lifestyle, cutting their energy consumption.

They have an energy-efficient heat pump, but most of the time they rely on a couple of gas fireplaces. They dry their clothes outdoors on a line. They shut off unneeded lights. And they drive a Toyota Prius hybrid car.

The electricity they consume is mostly for lighting, appliances and television.

Until this summer, they had no prior experience with solar power.

That changed when McCavour read a newspaper article about an Oliver man who installed 30 solar panels on his roof as a long-term investment.

McCavour followed up with Dean Malmberg, the owner of Argon Electrical Services in Oliver, who had supplied the man’s panels.

“He came to my house and we had about a dozen different neighbours that came,” said McCavour. “He told us the ins and outs of it.”

Although Argon can install the panels, McCavour, who is approaching 69, chose to do it himself. Malmberg paid a visit and showed him how to do it at no extra charge.

solar panels osoyoosMcCavour spent around $17,000 for the 24 panels as well as incurring about $3,000 to install them and place them on beds on the hill above their home.

That’s a lot of money up front, but McCavour believes it will save money in the longer term, especially if FortisBC continues to increase electricity rates.

“I tell people that if you buy a car for $20,000, in 10 years it’s worth practically nothing,” said McCavour. “I won’t say the panels are indestructible, but they’re guaranteed to give you 95 per cent of the power you get originally after 25 years.”

The panels don’t require any extra care, he said. They just sit behind the house in all weather drawing electricity from the most powerful energy source in the world.

Each panel, said McCavour, costs about $800, which includes the inverter and the wiring necessary to convert the sunlight into a household electricity current.

Each panel puts out about 250 watts of electricity meaning that McCavour’s 24 panels put out about six kilowatts per hour.

McCavour and Turner had to sign an agreement with FortisBC to join their net metering program. They also had to install a bidirectional electricity meter.

Under the FortisBC net metering program, customers who put clean electricity into the grid can sell it to the utility for a credit at the retail rate. The amount that homeowners and businesses can sell back to FortisBC is capped at 50kW.

McCavour is happy to see that the panels have sharply lowered his electricity consumption and his power bill has come down considerably.

On his September bill, the first complete billing period since the panels were installed, his average electricity consumption fell to just over half what it was in the same period in 2013.

Given the abundance of sunshine in the South Okanagan, McCavour thinks many more homeowners and businesses could be investing in solar power.

“In Germany they have 500,000 solar powered homes and they get less sunshine than we do,” he said.

Germany subsidizes solar power and McCavour believes that could be done here.

There should be a program to help homeowners with the up-front costs that would allow them to pay back an interest free loan with the savings on their power bills, he said.

One of the problems with solar power is that it isn’t generated when the sun isn’t shining. McCavour said he hopes to be able to build up a credit on his power bills in the sunny summers that will carry him through the winter months when the hours of sunlight are much shorter.

He’s anxiously waiting for the cost of large storage batteries to come down so that he can store the power he produces in the daytime and use it at night.

“The only thing wrong with the batteries right now is they’re so expensive,” he said. “They’ve got the battery. They’ve got to get the price down and that’s when it’s a game changer.”

Turner said she was initially skeptical that the panels would produce as much electricity as they do. She helped install them and her initial concern was more about her husband hurting himself with the physical work.

Several months later, however, she is sold.

“I’m probably never going to be as enthusiastic as Paul because he goes into the stratosphere with his enthusiasm, but I love it,” she said. “I think it was the right thing to do. Definitely I’m enthusiastic.”

McCavour wants the Town of Osoyoos to get on board with solar energy to produce electricity.

“I’d like to see them put panels on the Sonora Centre,” he said. “I’d like to see them put them on their proposed new fire hall.”

B.C. has a program to put solar on schools, but currently it’s only to produce hot water and not electricity, McCavour said.

“This is a game changer if the government will just get on board,” he said. “Otherwise, it will take a little longer to happen, but it will happen. The higher the power bills go, people will realize that solar makes sense.”


Osoyoos Times

Leave a Reply

Hear What Our Happy Clients Say!

Love Seeing the Electrical Meter Going Backwards!

As most homeowners, we would like to keep our electricity bills down. And knowing that the cost of electricity is going up over the next few years is concerning. So when we saw that Argon Electrical was now selling and installing solar panels we ...

I See the Sun Shining and Know We are Saving Money!

I believe that part of the future energy mix should be solar power. It certainly is within any homeowner's reach to have solar panels installed, or to install them yourself.

After researching Argon Electrical Services of Oliver, ...

I Like Watching my Electric Meter Stop!

I'd recommend Argon Solar anytime. The work you guys did was awesome!  I got the solar panels on Wednesday and by Friday I was tied to the grid and watching my electric meter just about come to a stop! I'm still waiting for my first Fortis bill ...

Solar is the Future

I am very happy that I chose to go with solar panels.  Solar is the thing for the future.  The sun is free and we should use it!  Thanks Argon Solar for doing a great job with our solar panel installation!


Argon Went the Extra Mile


Argon did a professional job and went the extra mile helping with a problem getting the inverter certified. We are very happy and would recommend them to anyone who wants to go solar in the South Okanagan!



Read More Testimonials »