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Public gets turned on about solar power

Public meeting

It seems there’s overwhelming support for solar power on the Coast after a meeting on possible solar options drew three times as many participants as organizers expected.

Around 160 people packed into a meeting room at the Gibsons and Area Community Centre on Saturday, March 21 to hear what a small steering committee had learned about solar power and to contemplate coming together in a cooperative of some sort on the Sunshine Coast.

“Honestly I did not expect anything like that turnout, so I feel very delighted and I feel very hopeful about what that implies in terms of potential to move this forward,” said solar power steering committee member Joanna Zilsel after the meeting.

What Zilsel and the committee will move forward with is yet to be decided, but it may include setting up a solar panel buyers’ group, creating a solar power demonstration garden on the Coast or starting a solar power cooperative.

The solar power committee has been collecting emails of residents who want to stay in the loop and within the next two weeks it plans to send out a follow-up email to each of the more than 200 people who signed up.

“We’ll be sending out a Survey Monkey poll with questions to see what level of involvement people want to have,” Zilsel said, adding some may just want to put solar panels on their own roofs, while others may want to help set up a solar garden or create a more formal group to advance solar power initiatives on the Coast.

“Once we have the results of the survey, from there we’ll really start to create our goals.”

During last Saturday’s meeting, attendees heard that the price of solar panels has come down considerably in the past few years, while their efficiency has increased.

Zilsel related the story of a small town in Germany using solar power that has less sunshine than the Coast and utilizes older solar panels, but still manages to generate enough electricity to power homes in the area.

“So if they can do it on old panels with less sunshine, we can do it,” Zilsel said to applause.

She pointed to the need for a sustainable energy source on the Coast, adding a grassroots approach was needed to kick-start change.

“There is an alternative and we can offer that alternative,” Zilsel said. “It’s not some pie in the sky, futuristic, utopian science-fiction fantasy. The technology actually really does exist right now. It’s a question of political will.”

If you would like to get involved in the solar scene on the Coast, email Zilsel at

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