Top, middle: The new solar array is seen with the Pioneer Hall in the background. Top, right: Jim Jacobsen, Solar Advisor with Empower Energy Corp. Above: The Triangle Women’s Institute presents CBT with a thank-you gift. Phil McLachlan/The Free Press

Triangle Women’s Institute celebrates latest achievement

The new solar array will help the community hall in Grasmere reduce its impact on the environment

At the end of August, a group in Grasmere gathered to not only celebrate how far they have come, but also celebrate their newest achievement; a brand new solar energy system.

The Triangle Women’s Institute unveiled their new system on Thursday, August 22, and paid tribute to this, as well as all of their other projects made possible through the Columbia Basin Trust since 1999.

This new 16.5 Kilowatt system, installed by Empower Energy Corp., is set to generate about 17 Kilowatts of AC power, annually, covering about 70 per cent of the Pioneer Hall’s current energy consumption.

This is the same energy group that worked with the Tobacco Plains Indian Band to install a 42 Kilowatt system on their new Health and Administration Building.

“One of the things we’re excited about as a solar company of course is empowering the groups we work with, to have a sustainable future based on renewable energy,” said Jim Jacobsen, Solar Advisor with Empower Energy Corp.

From an economic standpoint, this new system will allow the Women’s Institute to fundraise for other projects or community initiatives, rather than fundraise to cover the cost of operation.

From an environmental standpoint, this new system will help this community hall reduce its impact on the environment. Jacobsen said that system is the equivalent of the Triangle Women’s Institute planting 9306 trees, and the energy they will not be using equates to 844 barrels of oil, every year.

RDEK Area B Director Stan Doehle hailed the Triangle Women’s Institute for being a critical part of the community of Grasmere. He thanked them for their volunteerism. He also thanked the Columbia Basin Trust for all that they do in the communities through the basin.

CBT chair Rick Jensen spoke to how the trust only continues to grow, and that with this, they have invested in future generations.

“The Triangle Women’s Institute is [an] organization that has been worked to the benefit of the Grasmere region for over 80 years. And I was very humbled as the trust chair, to received the invitation to come here and be part of the celebration of the new solar array,” he said.

“Humbled because the invitation asks everyone to join the Triangle Women’s Institute to celebrate projects made possible by Columbia Basin Trust. And really, that’s not right,” he added.

“The invitation should have read, please join the trust in celebrating the efforts and achievements of the incredible Triangle Women’s Institute.”

Jensen explained that the women’s institute was instrumental in initiating what would result in the area having electricity, phone service, a highway, as well as the hub, ‘the heart’ of Grasmere; the Pioneer Hall.

“The (TWI) is the reason that there is the community hall. They built it, they own it, they operate it, and they champion this new solar energy system that we’re here to celebrate,” said Jensen.

He furthered that the CBT energy and sustainability grants program is working with basin non-profits, local governments and First Nations organizations to invest in alternative energy to increase energy efficiency and reduce costs.

He said they will continue to build on their achievements, as the Triangle Women’s Institute will continue to do, “for their community, family, friends, neighbours, for the next 80 years.”

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