Coldstream's old glass plant to become largest solar farm in the Interior

Glass plant to solar farm

Tracey Prediger

With a rooftop that spans more than seven acres, Restoration Lands in Coldstream will soon boast the largest solar panel installation in the BC Interior, if not the whole province.

It is a bit ironic that the site more commonly known as the old glass plant will soon have a large portion of its roof covered in glass.

“One thing that’s been in our business plan from day one is putting a solar farm on our roof,” explains Michael Molnar, owner and CEO of Restoration Lands.

The solar farm is expected to be installed in three stages and when complete, could produce up to four-megawatts of power.

While BC Hydro’s public affairs coordinator could not comment specifically on the Restoration Lands project, David Cooper explained that one-megawatt of power used for one hour would be equivalent to 1,000 kWh.

“Some properties in BC, such as apartments, will not exceed 1,000kWh in a typical two-month billing cycle,” he says.

Creating a major economic driver

Since the Molnars purchased the 92-acre piece of property in 2016, their objective has always been to restore the massive industrial building and grow it into a major economic driver for the region and employ 1,000 workers.

The space has already welcomed Mushrom, a medicinal and edible mushroom grower, No Meat Factory, a vegan food manufacturer, and Bottle None, a natural beauty product creator.

The Okanagan Industrial Eco Park also includes cedarcraft, a manufacturing and warehousing company. Restoration Lands is hoping to attract businesses in the ag-tech, food tech, value added forestry and data tech sectors and fosters a business-to-business model to reduce transportation costs and practice sustainability.

When the solar farm is installed, Restoration Lands tenants will be able to say they are creating their products or processing in a very sustainable manner.

Reducing pressure on power grid

“It will put a massive dent in what we are consuming on premise," said Molnar. "Just to be clear, BC Hydro is not buying power from us, we are offsetting our power consumption to take pressure off their grid.”

Aging infrastructure, changing climate and the impact lower water levels will have on dam generated power are all top of mind for BC Hydro which has introduced several programs encouraging businesses and residents to pursue and access alternative sources of clean, green and renewable energy sources.

Cooper says, “We have various programs in which we provide financial support for such projects, starting with our Net Metering program which provides incentives for smaller solar generating locations. This program is perfect for residential or small to medium commercial/industrial customers.”

For larger commercial/industrial customers like Residential Lands, BC Hydro offers incentives on a case-by-case basis.

The solar panels for Restoration Lands are currently in the engineering and design stage and installation is expected to be complete by the end of August.

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