Gord Fulcher with one of the 12 solar panels that will soon cover the roof of his house. Combined

Energy shift hands in Sooke

Sooke resident leaves power grid and generates his own form of electricity

“Times are a changin” is a phrase often heard with just about everything: culture, technology, society and the environment.

But there’s a bigger shift in places – one that engulfs everything else – the worldwide revolution of renewable energy.

Gord Fulcher, a Sooke resident, watched this tug-and-pull battle between the old ways of generating power – from dams, coal-fire plants, oil and gas installations – and power that comes from the sun, the sea, and earth.

He chose the sun by installing 12 solar (2X3 feet) panels on the roof of his home, each one capable of 300 kW, with a combined output of up to 3.6 kWh of electricity.

“It’s something I’ve always wanted to do, and have actually installed this for other people, just haven’t been able to afford it for myself until now,” he said.

The installation is what’s called a grid-type inverter system, meaning for every two panels there’s an inverter that changes it to AC power right at the solar panels. It all connects to the home’s power box and feeds back electricity. Any power that isn’t used spins the meter backwards.

“We get paid for that, or we get money taken off what we owe,” said Fulcher, who’s trained in alternative energy and has previous experience with installing hot water systems.

Last winter, Fulcher built a furnace out of beer cans which used a solar panel to power it; the result was free heat to warm up his crawl space.

Installing the solar panel grid is fairly easy and relatively inexpensive.

“You just hook it up to a 20 amp breaker in your power box and then when there’s sun, it creates power,” Fulcher said, adding the installation service is provided by several specialists in Sooke, though the company, Viridian Energy Co-Operative, is based out of Duncan.

The system will eventually pay for itself within a fewyears, and with a 20-year warranty and no moving parts, there’s not much that can go wrong either, noted Fulcher.

It’s not even about the money though – it’s about taking his own path to generating electricity.

“I don’t want the Site C Dam or the Keystone pipeline, and I always say that we should be investing in alternative energy,” Fulcher said. “We need oil and we need gas, but we don’t need as much.

“This is me putting my money where my mouth is.”