BUSINESS NOT AS USUAL: Making the Green Recovery Accessible to Nova Scotians

The largest commercial renewable energy retrofit in Nova Scotia was officially connected Wednesday, June 15, 2020 at the Old Orchard Inn Hotel and Convention Centre in Wolfville – designed and installed by SKYLIT, in partnership with LG.

The global COVID-19 pandemic crisis has heightened the call for action on climate change with the push for a clean, green, economic recovery. Focus is often on government and large corporations to lead the change, however, small and medium-sized businesses, which make up 90% of global businesses and 50% of employment worldwide, play a critical role in the response to climate change, and the Green Recovery.

SKYLIT, Nova Scotia’s only Solar PV Project Development Company has set out to fulfill that role.

Launched in Kentville in 2016 by husband and wife team of Dr. Andrew Bagley, President and CEO, and Christine Heap, VP Administration, SKYLIT is an ambitious solar company deeply committed to their vision of helping Nova Scotians to become leaders in renewable energy, and focused on a powerful goal to make solar more accessible to Nova Scotians.

“The common belief is that solar is expensive, and that people invest in solar because they believe in renewable energy and want to contribute to the greater cause of mitigating climate change – not because they are looking for a financial return on their investment,” says Bagley.

A Move into the Commercial Solar Space

Up until recently, SKYLIT has focused on providing high quality solar installations – and passionate knowledge – primarily to homeowners. SKYLIT launched and manages an innovative financing program for residential solar. Buoyed by its success and a remarkable year in 2019, SKYLIT wanted to provide an irresistible proposition to support businesses in leading the Green Recovery by example, recognizing that government renewable energy programs exclude companies.

Bill Wallace, General Manager and Owner of The Old Orchard Inn, a landmark in the Annapolis Valley since 1972, has also been committed to addressing climate change and reducing carbon emissions in a business that consumes a lot of energy. Wallace knew that the Inn had a perfect south facing roof to install solar but the cost had always been a barrier until he met with SKYLIT.

“Commercial solar is fundamentally about cost, so we worked very hard with our supply partners, including LG Electronics, to put together a high-quality package at the most competitive possible price,” says Bagley. “I’d had several conversations with Bill about that perfect south-facing roof on the Old Orchard Inn to showcase his commitment to reducing his carbon footprint while generating renewable energy for his guests.”

The nearly 100kW system was installed on the roof in about a month with the swift expertise of the SKYLIT team. The 8-year payback on this project that carries 25 year warranties and will operate for over 30 years, demonstrates a compelling business case for going solar, subsidy or no, and SKYLIT is looking for similar opportunities to grow this business.

The Case for Taking Businesses Solar

“A bigger installation has bigger rate of return,” Bagley explains. “As the size of the solar system increases, the net Cost-Per-Watt decreases, the more savings accrue from the offset power. SKYLIT’s work on costs for its commercial proposition has brought them down to the point where commercial applications don’t necessarily even require subsidies to make solar affordable. We are actively contributing to a Green Recovery by creating solid business partnerships all working together towards the same goal, and providing exceptional service and knowledge to support the growth of solar energy in Nova Scotia for all of its citizens.”

And speaking of citizens… Andrew Bagley and Christine Heap are originally from England and became Canadian Citizens at Pier 21 in Halifax in January 2020, to the applause of their employees. Why did they choose the Annapolis Valley, to relocate and launch their business? According to Heap, quality of life was the main attraction: “They grow vines in the Valley, so it must be good!”.

Amanda Brulé

Amanda is VP Sales & Residential Projects at SKYLIT.