Genie’s out of the bottle for solar energy

Owner of new company maintains

Eric McCarthy
Published on April 9, 2014

ALBERTON -- Chris Randall had been watching the solar energy industry in Ontario grow. He liked the idea of relying on the sun to provide energy for homes and businesses

“But it wasn’t cost effective,” he said.

Then, over the past couple of years he saw drastic reductions in the price of the panels and hardware.

“When I saw that part of the puzzle open up, that’s when I felt it was something good to get into,” said Randall who, in January of this year, started up West Prince Solar. The slogan for the new company which is based in Alberton but is prepared to service customers Island-wide, is ‘the bright alternative.’

Randall said he became “solar-aware” while working as an automation technician in the oilfields of California.

He moved to P.E.I. with his wife, a native Islander, about seven years ago and obtained his red seal as an electrician.

He believes he made the jump into solar energy at just the right time. “Here we are today, the genie’s out of the bottle, and where there were, a couple years ago, three or four manufacturers of solar cells, now there’s over 100 worldwide,” he said, confident efficiencies and competition have combined to make energy affordable.

 “This industry is growing leaps and bounds all over the world.”

He suggested a residential customer with the right number of solar panels could pay off the equipment purchases within 10 years just with the energy savings. Customers can use the sun to power their home and business and obtain energy credits against their power bill by feeding excess energy back into the electrical grid.

The panels are warrantied for 25 years, so Randall said customers would be pocking the savings once the system is paid for

The units can be mounted on the roof or they can be ground-mounted using a ballast and tethering method.

Randall will visit the customer, do an analysis of the property and help determine the optimum location for the panels. He can also demonstrate how quickly customers can recoup their investment.

Businesses, Randall said, could make themselves more competitive by taking advantage of the energy savings solar power provides.

Cost recovery is even faster, he said, if customers install a heat pump system to replace oil heat. Besides solar panels, he’s also a supplier and installer of air-source climate control heat pump systems. “It goes along with solar really well,” he claims.

With savings on heating and electrical costs combined, he estimates a residential customer could pay off the two systems within five years. As the price of electricity and oil increases, he continued, the savings would be even greater.

“There are very few things in this world where you can actually buy and pay for it, and it starts paying for itself right away, and that’s what solar energy does for everybody on the Island” Randall said.