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Coast SPCA first in province to run on solar power

Cody and Megan Kelso’s 115-km walk generated funds for renewable power source

The first BC SPCA location to connect to solar power has eliminated their energy bills for now, thanks to the fundraising efforts of a 10-year-old boy and his mom.

As the new solar panels were being installed on the roof of the Sunshine Coast SPCA on Aug. 4, Cody and Megan Kelso celebrated the end of their mission

In March, the mother-son duo walked 115 kilometres – the length of the lower Sunshine Coast – in four days as they tried to generate $30,000 for the renewable power project as well as the B.C. Sustainable Energy Association’s Cool It program for children. Cody became the youngest member of the Sunshine Coast Community Solar Association (SCCSA).

In the end, the Kelsos raised $23,570 for BC SPCA and $10,100 for BC SEA.

“I still think that it’s like a crazy thing that me and my mom made a permanent impact on this world. It’s really cool to finally see them up there,” Cody Kelso said of the solar panels. 

Cody, who is passionate about protecting the environment and animals, added that he hopes the solar panels help make a noticeable difference.

At a District of Sechelt meeting later on Aug. 4, a Sunshine Coast Community Forest Legacy Fund grant for $19,500 was approved to also install a solar water heating system at the Sunshine Coast SPCA. The new system will replace the existing natural gas hot water heater and boiler that is near the end of its life, and complement the new solar array. With a guaranteed lifespan of 25 to 30 years, the new heating system will provide hot water and heating for the building, and reduce both utility costs and greenhouse gas emissions. 

At first, BC SPCA wasn’t sure how much the Kelsos would raise. But once the donations came in, there was enough for solar panels to offset the building’s current power use, Rob Lindskog, the facilities maintenance officer for BC SPCA, told Coast Reporter. Then the SCCSA suggested the grant to dovetail the first solar project.

The additional installation of the new heater will provide hot water for laundry, cleaning and washing the animals, and the in-floor heating system provides warmth in the building and its kennels. While the second project may increase the building’s power consumption, Lindskog said there’s still more room on the roof for solar panels.

The whole process has been a learning experience for the organization, he said, adding they can now look at how to do similar solar projects at other BC SPCA locations, perhaps even incorporating them in initial design plans.

“The SPCA, through its hard work, provides animals in need the shelter and medical attention until they can find their forever home within our community. By bringing utility costs down, the SPCA can use these funds to aid these animals and get more animals out to our community,” the grant application states. “Providing the unconditional love that animals give to members of the community enhances the overall spirits of our community members.”

As for Cody and Megan, they hinted at another event in the works for next year.