Heritage goes green with charming results

MURRAYVILLE, BRITISH COLUMBIA - The Princess and the Pea bed and breakfast may be one of Langley’s most historic buildings but it is a futuristic as it gets.

Since May, the quaint hotel has been running on 10 solar panels that create the majority of electricity not just for the 121-year-old building, but for BC Hydro, which pays for the excess electricity generated.

“Every time I see our electric meter turning backwards I pinch myself in disbelief,” said Princess and the Pea owner Wally Martin.

“Every time you turn your lights on at home, the electricity could be coming from me.

If one million people did what I did there would be no need for dams or anything else.”

Now Martin is welcoming curious and energy conscious people to a solar power energy fair he is hosting on the grounds of his B&B on July 30 from noon to 8 p.m.

There is no cost to attend.

“I think I may be the first person on this side of the river to do this,” he said. “It’s the cost of a new boat, some may blow the money at the casino, but it’s about priorities. I want to be part of the solution, not part of the problem.”

Already he’s cut his energy use from 140 kilowatts per day down to 14.

“We in B.C. are still running on cheap energy but we can’t keep throwing dams across rivers.

“They are predicting blackouts this winter for factories in Canada. They already have rolling blackouts in the States,” he said.

The energy fair has generated interest from as far away as Nova Scotia.

“I’ve had so many emails and calls. Any time you say the word ‘energy’ it’s of huge interest.”

The experts who installed the photovoltaic system (solar??panels that make electricity) will be at the fair to explain how it all works.

Any qualified electrician can put up the solar panels, recognizing they are dealing with direct current, Martin explains.

“But what we really need is a university specializing in solar power energy like there is in Europe,” he said.

Businesses that have ‘green’ products will also be on display from a company that sells solar roof shingles to a business selling efficient lighting.

“It’s going to be a relaxed summer time atmosphere where people can look at the solar panels, ask questions to the different experts,” he said.


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