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Solar Net Metering: it’s not a birdbrained idea

August 24 2017, 11:15 AM

Solar Net Metering: it’s not a birdbrained idea

Nestled along the shore of the Bay of Fundy about eight kilometres from Dorchester is the Johnson’s Mills Shorebird Reserve and Interpretive Centre. The centre is owned by the Nature Conservancy of Canada, a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving natural habitats, plants and animals.

The centre recently upgraded to a solar energy system that is able to power the entire facility. On cloudy days when the centre cannot draw enough power from the sun, it uses energy from the NB Power grid as part of the Net Metering Program. The program is designed to allow customers to generate their own electricity to offset their consumption, while remaining connected to NB Power's distribution system – so they can meet their electricity demands when their generation unit cannot.

“It was important for the Nature Conservancy of Canada to power our facility with solar energy because in protecting habitats and managing our lands, we want to minimize our impact on climate change,” Kerry Lee Morris-Cormier, Manager of the Shorebird Interpretation Centre, said.

The solar array is made up of 4, 250W photovoltaic solar panels with converters. EOS Eco-Energy, a non-profit organization based out of Sackville that supports energy conservation and renewable energy technologies, supplied the funds to pay for the array through a grant.

“By reducing our carbon footprint, we are having a positive effect on the environment here,” said Morris-Cormier.

“The Interpretive Centre was able to net zero their consumption last year using the grid as a reliable source when the sun is not present but were able to give all that energy back using the power of the sun.  It’s a great example of environmental leadership and stewardship,” said J.P. Ouellette, Renewables Specialist at NB Power.

The purpose of the Interpretive Centre is to provide a safe place for shorebirds to roost, or rest, during their migration each year from the Canadian Arctic to South America. Up to 100,000 stop and rest at Johnson’s Mills. The mud the low tide leaves behind is rich with food sources for the birds to store in their fat pouches.

Shorebirds fly over the ocean for three days straight before arriving in South America. These birds can’t swim, which is why it is so important for them to remain undisturbed while they roost throughout the month of August, and is why the Johnson’s Mills Shorebird Reserve and Interpretive Centre exists.

“We have converted this old cottage from the 1950’s into an interpretive centre so we can be here in the summer months to monitor the species and help inform the public of how special these birds and how to best visit the area without harming the birds,” said Morris-Cormier.

 

 

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