Saskatchewan's first solar power co-op could see the light of day

The Saskatchewan Environmental Society (SES) started an Indiegogo campaign to help establish Saskatchewan's first solar co-operative. The society wants to offset Saskatoon's "dirty energy" and promote green energy.

Saskatchewan Environmental Society is crowdfunding to establish a solar power plant

Saskatchewan Environmental Society is working to establish a solar power "farm," much like this one. (Saskatchewan Environmental Society)

A Saskatoon non-profit is crowd funding to make going solar simple.

The Saskatchewan Environmental Society (SES) started an Indiegogo campaign to help establish Saskatchewan's first solar co-operative. The society says it wants to offset Saskatoon's "dirty energy" and promote green energy. 

According to Allyson Brady, the executive director of the SES, converting to solar energy doesn't have to be a struggle. 

"Previously, the way that people could get into renewable energy would be to put maybe 20 solar panels on their house, invest $20,000, go through all the paperwork, apply for subsidies, hire an installer. What we're saying with this solar power co-op is, we'll do all that," Brady said.

A solar co-op membership costs $900 -- the price of one solar panel.

This project will consist of 400 solar panels, and the society will sell the green electricity to the Saskatoon Light and Power and SaskPower grid. All the returns that it gains from these sales will be rebated to co-op members.

Over 25 years, members can expect rebates from power providers of $700. If a member wants to purchase more panels, their rebates will go up accordingly, Brady said.

The SES is doing the leg work on this pilot project in the hope that other non-profits will follow it's lead and solar co-ops will pop up around the province.

Taking renewable energy a step further

Saskatchewan's energy primarily comes from natural gas, petroleum, and coal. The SES hopes the solar co-op will make choosing a green alternative more appealing to people in Saskatchewan.

We just want to take it that much further. We want to make it hassle free and really accessible to a lot more people.- Allyson Brady, executive director of the Saskatchewan Environmental Society

"You can invest $900 or $1000 and be part of getting renewable energy off the ground in Saskatchewan in a more meaningful way," Brady said.

"We just want to take it that much further. We want to make it hassle free and really accessible to a lot more people," she said.

As of Monday, 32 of the 400 panels were bought, Brady said.

Crowd funding success

By Monday, the Society raised more than $50,000 through their Indiegogo campaign and they have the opportunity to win an additional $50,000 through Affinity Credit Union's Business for Good campaign.

Brady estimates the co-op will cost about $340,000. They hope to sell more of the panels and win the $50,000 to help make the project a reality.

If they do win the prize money, she hopes to have the co-op up and running by the summer or early fall.

Voting in the Business for Good campaign closed Monday night. The winner will be announced on Friday.