Solar energy making its way to Golden

Freenergy owner Thad Mertick discusses solar energy and the possibilities it offers the consumer.

The idea of “going green” is nothing new. What has changed in recent years is how much financial sense it can make for consumers to make their houses more environmentally friendly.

Thad Mertick, owner of Freenergy, has been looking for an opportunity to break into the solar panel market for five years, but the market’s climate hasn’t made sense for him— until now.

“Now it’s not just about being ‘green’, which is a great thing, but it’s also about being profitable and being able to save money every month with your power bills,” he said.

Mertick calls this an exciting time for solar energy as the technology has advanced while prices have regressed.

The simplest and most cost-effective way for an individual to get started with solar energy is through the purchase of a basic solar panel and a microinverter.

“You used to have to spend $10,000 just to get into the market…(now) these microinverters hook right up to the panel so you can buy just one panel, an inverter and some cables and run it directly into your power panel,” he explained.

“The installation becomes very simple and you can also expand on these systems as you feel fit.”

Even just a single panel can lead to savings on a homeowner’s hydro bills.

“The goal is to directly reduce your power consumption from BC Hydro. We want to get you below that Step 2,” Mertick said.

Under current rates, B.C. Hydro charges 7.52 cents per kWh for the first 1,350 kWh over a two-month billing period. Above that amount, a customer’s rate jumps to Step 2, at 11.27 cents per kWh. Avoiding crossing that 1,350 kWh threshold can be crucial for hydro bill savings.

In addition to the single panel and micro inverter system, Mertick is offering residents in rural areas around Golden a chance to go completely off-grid. Setting up this much more extensive system requires a full consultation in advance of any installation.

“Inevitably, this system can completely take it so that you have no contact with B.C. Hydro,” he said.

To celebrate his store’s move into the solar energy industry, Mertick is hosting a grand opening celebration at the store (1210 Trans Canada Hwy) on Oct. 24 from 4 to 8 p.m. The event will also act as a fundraiser for the Golden Women’s Resource Centre, with burgers, donuts and drinks available by donation.